To most, Mitchell Rowland looks like any other unassuming indie guitarist, but to a legion of Harry Styles fans, he is the Grammy-winning collaborator behind Styles’ genius. Rowland joined the team after Styles discovered him and his guitar in the LA pizza joint where he washed dishes and has been touring as his guitarist since “Sign of the Times.” Rowland’s quiet, mysterious presence is the perfect ying to Styles’ yang, giving him and his brilliant wife, Sarah Jones (Styles’ drummer), quite the fanbase. This relatively short LP, Come June, is Rowland’s first solo project, and the mellow guitar folk rock that floats from track to track has brought him into a well-deserved spotlight. Rowland wrote eleven of the twelve songs solo and collaborated with Sarah Jones and his longtime friend and producer Rob Schnapf on this impressive debut. Rowland’s beautifully soft and velvety vocals compliment his signature guitar riffs, bringing a John-Mayer-meets-Elliott-Smith vibe to the table. There is no part of this album that sounds like a copycat of Harry’s House or Fine Line. If anything, it lends itself more to the folky moments on Styles’ first album, Harry Styles, à la “Two Ghosts”. Still, Rowland finds his independence with each song.
On the opening track, “Bluebells,” Rowland establishes the lyrical tone of trepidation seen throughout the record. As he sings that there are “moments passing by while the tub is overflown,” he assures that he will “find a shady patch inside of the bluebells, let a melody run wild” with a calm tone of voice that is unique to his artistry. This uncertainty felt throughout the record is refreshingly vulnerable as we see the fears that come with being in love.
The album’s highlight is the latest single, “Here Comes the Comeback,” where Rowland lets loose and finds a more upbeat sound while letting listeners know that he is “on top of the town” as he reunites with his muse. It is the exact optimistic pick-me-up that this record needs, coming at just the right time to carry the listener to the back half of the project.
Producer Rob Schnapf does an excellent job highlighting Rowland’s extensive guitar skills on this record while providing a subdued, almost jazzy composition in the background. Perhaps the most outstanding example is the fourth track, “On the Line”. Here, Rowland and Schnapf marry the harsh electric guitar riffs with Rowland’s airy falsetto in perfect juxtaposition.
On this record, Rowland steps out of Styles’ shadow and into his spotlight. In straying just enough from Styles’ pop hits, Mitch Rowland carries over Harry Styles’ fanbase while experimenting with a seasoned, rich folk sound. The work speaks for itself on this excellent debut album, and this wonderfully humble and minimal collection of songs is not unlike his persona itself. Come June makes it clear that more brilliance is due from Mitch Rowland, and only sometimes behind the comfort of his sparkly frontman.