Becoming a parent is a momentous step for any one person to take. You’ve created life, and no matter how you slice that, it’s a pretty heavy concept. Ironically, Source of Pride, the second full-length from Roman Ruins, rides an extremely light, effortless vibe. Practically bursting from the seams with joy, the New Orleans-based producer has crafted an ethereal opus of love, friendship, and family.
“Since we had our first kid, I have felt a charge to build things,” Graham Hill recently told Impose. Now a father of two, the 33 year-old composer and musician—and also architect—has laid solid groundwork on his sophomore release. As Hill’s life transitions, so his music transitions with it; his debut, the aptly-titled Homebuilding, was released in tandem with the birth of his first son. Now, there’s even more to explore: ever-evolving relationships between brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, and how they all intertwine.
This is never more evident than on “Family Ties”, where Hill’s penchant for pop melody drives a tale of generations past, present, and future. From this thematic center of the record, several other branches are extended, from the gentle assurance of “Sister” to the distant nostalgia of “Grandfather”. Album opener “Loved One” is a simple sonic pleasure, dreamy and steady, with synths that gently buzz and fade. Like the family he’s built, its beats are dynamic, yet undeniably solid, like a sturdy foundation.
Where Source of Pride begins to shake is towards the record’s end, when sounds take a sharp, folk-inspired turn, veering slightly from the delicate electronics of prior tracks. Creating music so deeply personal is difficult territory to navigate; proclaiming your intense happiness without turning listeners off isn’t always easy. Take “Wedding Day”, for example; it’s a seemingly pretty tribute, but still a hard pill to swallow. If an over-abundance of feelings make you want to hurl, schmaltzy lyrics like “had to make her my queen” and “smiles with her eyes of green” just might test your gag reflex. All warnings aside, Source of Pride is best when littered with the circadian sounds of life: distant sirens wailing, newborn babies crying, and the comfortable ease of being with someone you love. When the listener can relate, even the most saccharine of topics become easily digestible.
As Roman Ruins, Hill speaks to universal experiences, bringing them to life even for those who haven’t experienced them quite yet. His latest smooth, tranquil offering is an appealing glimpse at true happiness, straight from the source.