Riun Garner’s songs embody that which we can’t always comprehend: the irreconcilable joy and loss of loving.
You instantly feel the power of analog on Riun Garner’s ”Fabric”, the opening track on All We Know and All We Forget. Garner, who hails from Vancouver, recorded his debut EP on an old, abandoned reel-to-reel tape machine that lends added intimacy to these already disarmingly honest songs. Stripped back to the basics, All We Know and All We Forget recalls the roots of making indie music with an acoustic guitar, an old piano, and a voice.
Featuring a beautifully weighty piano accompaniment to the guitar, Garner’s songwriting is instinctive and simple, sung with a soft-spoken quality that tells a relatable story. Reminiscent of Elliot Smith’s aesthetic, “Fabric” airs imperfections unapologetically, speaking to the common struggles of loving and aging. Emerging on the margins of popular music, Garner’s take on indie-music makes space for the fragility we all feel through the familiar phases of life.
Garner’s collection of quiet folk songs has the power to reacquaint us with long lost parts of ourselves; the hum of the tape machine adds an extra layer of this emotive connective tissue under the minimalist mix. I imagine “Fabric” as a letter to a younger self, opening with the line “I know what it’s like when you feel stuck”. Speaking to the growing pains of learning how “to do it on your own” and “put yourself out even if it hurts you the most”, Garner reassures us that taking these chances is well worth the risk with the succinct, promising, albeit frustrating, anecdote: “you’ll see”. Reaching through the middle ground where youthful hesitation meets maturity, “Summer and Smoke” tells the tale of “walking through that old garden, trying to find my peace” in nostalgic wanderings.
Taking time with his inner negotiations, Garner delivers each word of “Trouble” with care, saying: “if this was meant to be, wouldn’t you want to start it right”. A classic heartbreak song, “Trouble” goes through the motions of a painful breakup and is filled with the kind of yearning and regret that comes with hindsight: “I know I said you were trouble but the trouble was me”. Moving slowly but surely towards the light, the words of “Wrote Myself Off” hang on the impossibility of knowing anything for certain but that “everyone is alone in the end”. Despite the heartbreak, every word of All We Know and All We Forget is sung so sweetly that one is tempted to betray the worry and enjoy the moment. As exposed as they come, Garner’s songs embody that which we can’t always comprehend: the irreconcilable joy and loss of loving.