Can you find an artist whose music emulates the pain, euphoria, sorrow, passion, empathy, apathy, despair, and madness of life explored so wondrously by Roland Faunte? His debut LP Sewing Kit brings you to tears. It makes you feel understood—creeping into you, even the darkest, most private layers. It is the most cathartic music I’ve heard. But whether or not you have mental illness, it’s not about labels like that. It’s about the fears and insecurities found in all humans. Roland also wrote, sang, and produced the album by himself. It is as impressive sonically as it is lyrically. All in all, Sewing Kit is a masterpiece in every way.
Sewing Kit begins at “Hand Over Hand,” with over 1.5 million streams on Spotify. Calm and reflective, it deconstructs Roland’s struggles with depression—materializing them with surreal metaphors and soft imagery. Setting the tone, “Hand Over Hand” is an apt segue into the next song.
“So hear me now
In case I falter and I break
Without a doubt
Let me be clear
You are the reason I’m still here.”
Musically, the album shines in “Happy Life,” which boasts several million plays on Spotify. Written for a girl who helped him stay alive in his hardest times, this love song shows Roland’s superb range & delivery as a singer, coupled with beautiful lyrical musings about life, love, and relationships. The first 90 seconds are slow, as Roland contemplates the dichotomy of his life with and without her, only to explode into a beautiful crescendo of drums and piano. Every song on Sewing Kit is amazing—there is not a wasted minute on the 8-song LP—but “Happy Life” is a standout. It is the most compelling song overall.
“Lake” is a reminder that the depth of songs on this album is so immense that it’s difficult to prescribe arbitrary meaning to any one of them. But the album is such that whatever interpretation you derive is valid for your personal experience. “Lake” seems to touch upon the paranoia, depression, & doubts of bipolar disorder—and the allure of escaping your problems, of ending it all. “Everyone I’ve ever known is around me, and it looks like I’ve let them all down, somehow.” Relatable.
The album’s emotional nexus is “Levers.” With dazzling, meandering poetic cuts, “Levers” goes right for your heart for almost 7 minutes. Its theme is unequivocal: suicide. But it wanders through the human condition, what haunts us, and much more. The musings contain overwhelming depth. It is impossible to sufficiently elucidate the beauty of “Levers.” Honestly, it might be the most moving song I’ve ever heard. It is certainly one of my all-time favorite tracks.
Broken boy who must keep hoping
Maybe one day he will figure this out
Or things will heal in time
This breathing ghost that never died
These bits and pieces all left over
From that smiling child I used to be
I’m cold and terrified
I know there’s warmth but I can’t find it.”
The second half of the album is as seamless as the first, perhaps more. While it doesn’t pack the fireworks of “Hand Over Hand,” “Happy Life,” “Lake,” and “Levers,” it continues the moods & sounds that stand out in the LP. I’ll keep this short since I’ve already covered the songs I wanted to discuss the most. Dancing with the innocent bliss of love, “Mud and Pollen” reflects upon the relationship and all it meant to him. With an absolutely beautiful chorus, bridge, and outro, the song shifts gears while maintaining continuity. “How to Reappear” contemplates his conflicted feelings about whether life remains worth living and the ramifications of a potential death. Next comes another of my favorites: “Lilies.” With phenomenal production, this song is like a dove—soaring through the skies, just looking around, with no idea how beautiful it is. Roland’s subtle piano notes put you in a trance. The album ends with “End on a Hai,” a consummate ending to a grand story.
Sewing Kit recently turned 2 years old. Still, I am not tired of a single song on it. And among the 50+ friends with whom I’ve shared the album, I only hear emphatic feedback. It is a colossal achievement disguised as a minor one. It is ambitious and jaw-dropping yet personal and intimate. It’s always in the back of my head—and those of many others. Perhaps it’s not an album for every single human. But if you’ve struggled before, which applies to most of us anyway, it’s more than gold. It’s revolutionary. Roland Faunte is one of the most promising young artists alive.