“Less is More:” Mitch Rowland on new album

Mitch Rowland’s debut album “Come June” creates a relaxing world of guitar melodies and breathtaking lyrics. His album released in October 2023, and he is currently touring. // Photo courtesy of Luke Atkinson.

This spring, Mitch Rowland is in full bloom as he performs across the US following the release of his debut album, “Come June.” The alternative folk artist couples contemplative lyricism with uncomplicated instrumentation to form a niche entirely of his own. 

“Come June” embodies the beauty that comes with simplicity, and it compliments Rowland’s style as a down-to-earth, reflective artist. As he explains,
“Doing less is more.”

Rowland grew up just outside of Columbus, Ohio, where the local music scene sparked his passion for music. He started playing the drums and attending piano lessons from a young age, but it was not until later that he found his true calling: guitar. 

It was love at first strum for Rowland, and he began cultivating his guitar technique and experimenting with songwriting into adulthood.

“I knew I wanted to pursue music, but I don’t think I knew how to pursue it necessarily,” Rowland reflects. “The main thing was that I just always stayed interested in playing and trying to progress as a songwriter.” In 2013, he moved from Columbus to L.A., where he found himself working as a dishwasher in a pizza shop. His audio engineer friend informed him that Harry Styles needed a guitarist for the studio sessions of his debut solo album, and Rowland answered the call.

The pair hit it off immediately, and Rowland quickly became Styles’ touring guitarist and trusted collaborator, working on songs such as “Sign of the Times,” “Watermelon Sugar” and “Music for a Sushi Restaurant.” 

After four years of near-constant recording and touring for Styles, Rowland began focusing on his own music, and he released his first album “Come June” in Oct. 2023. 

“Come June” is an ode to anti-production, standing in sharp contrast to his previous work with Styles. “I’ve enjoyed making every record with Harry, but they’re very produced records,” Rowland says. “At the time, Covid was kind of kicking in, and the music that spoke the loudest to me was really minimal music. It was kind of all listening to a guy with a guitar.”

Even though the title suggests otherwise, “Come June” is undeniably a fall album, born to be the soundtrack to sipping an iced chai latte on a chilly morning in September. The stripped-down folk genre suits Rowland, whose resonant voice merges with his signature open-tuned guitar to form one entity. Rowland’s affinity for the upright bass is also heard in each song, making the album sonically unique and providing a smooth underlying rhythm. 

Storytelling is a critical part of Rowland’s songwriting. He creates collages in musical form, using snippets of his life and inspiration from the events around him.

For example, one of Rowland’s favorite songs off “Come June” is “When It All Falls Down,” which originated from watching UFC reruns nearly every day while on vacation in Spain with his wife and her parents. 

Rowland was inspired and decided, “It might be interesting for a song to be about the guy that loses and gets his lights punched out.” 

Rowland also drew inspiration from 1960s British folk artists such as Bert Jansch and Nick Drake for the record. Jansch, in particular, is a role model to Rowland, who explains, “He can kind of sound like an entire band, just playing and singing one of his songs. He just covers a lot of ground.” This influence is evident in “Come June” through Rowland’s ability to captivate with introspective lyrics and guitar-powered production.

Many other people significantly contributed to the creation of “Come June.” Namely, legendary indie producer Rob Schnapf produced the album, and collaborator Ben Harper played lap steel on the song “All the Way Back.”

Additionally, Rowland’s wife, English drummer Sarah Jones, was a large proponent of the album’s formation. 

He calls her his “muse” and says, “If I’m kicking around a few ideas for songs, and she says, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ Maybe that’s good enough encouragement for me to say, ‘All right, maybe I’ll finish that idea off.’”

As of now, Rowland is two weeks into tour, and he has already played at iconic venues such as the Fillmore in San Francisco and the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. He is continuing to play shows through the end of March, stopping by Terminal West in Atlanta on Mar. 6. 

Rowland also has new music coming out soon, including the single “Carry On With Your Tea” that will be pressed on a 7” vinyl for the upcoming Record Store Day. While it falls into the same realm as “Come June,” he says, “It’s a glimpse into what some more music might sound like.”

Even though Rowland only has one album so far, it is clear that he has already found his voice in the industry. 

“Come June” is a brilliant showcase of his charming authenticity, musicality and the pride that he holds in his work.