There is a lot of truth in the album title Ten Year Project by Jesse Rowlands. Rowlands has been writing this album for around ten years and went through seventy songs before landing on nine he chose to release. According to Rowlands the album is in three parts. He says, “The first three songs are about women. The middle four are stories about other people and the last two are about myself and the burden that this album was.”
With that description I was thinking I was going to be treated to a densely layered album with multiple guests. I was surprised to hear that every song is simply his vocal and guitar all of which seem to be recorded in one take. There is nothing inherently wrong with that but as I have said before if a singer/songwriter wants to lead me into a LP with just these two elements he better have some serious tricks up his sleeve.
Rowlands doesn’t have many tricks up his sleeve on Ten Year Project. The songs feel familiar to a myriad of songwriters and Rowlands plays into the tropes that have come before. That being said everything else on the album is pleasant and easy to enjoy. The guitar playing relies on a lot of basic strumming but he does pull off some nice picking on occasion. Rowlands has a good voice. Although the production is above average I think if his vocals were recorded at a professional studio it would have made a noticeable difference. Rowlands occasionally runs into a sour note but you can view it as part of its charm.
The biggest deterrent about this album is its lack of variation. Hence, after one hardy listen I was able to get more pleasure by listening to two or three songs at a time and then just letting it rest. The individual songs do not drag. Rowlands’ songwriting is sharp and focused. You can hear this right away in the opener “Take A Chance” or the more melancholy “Waiting for You.”
Lyrically Rowlands is straightforward and delves into some engaging topics such as longing for unfound love, coming home but scared about the bounty on his head, or an indignant father. The narratives are interesting, thought out and you wonder how personal they are.
Rowlands certainly has some talent and his delivery feels extremely heartfelt. I would have liked to hear a couple more instruments make an appearance but maybe we will here that in 2026. Until then Ten Year Project is an impressive start.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook