How Mitch Rowland went from pizza boy to Harry Styles collaborator to breakout folk artist in 7 years

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How Mitch Rowland went from pizza boy to Harry Styles collaborator to breakout folk artist in 7 years

Music review

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Music review

When Harry Styles’ “Behind the Album” documentary debuted in 2017, viewers were immediately taken by the singer’s charismatic co-writer and guitarist Mitch Rowland.

After all, Styles had been a global superstar since 2010, so he was already a familiar face — and then some. But Rowland was a new kid on the block, one who had clearly developed a close rapport with Styles in the short time it took them to make the One Direction alum’s debut solo album, “Harry Styles.”

In the Apple Music doc, Styles shared that he had met Rowland by chance, as the long-haired, amateur musician from Ohio was a last-minute replacement for another guitarist who couldn’t make it to a recording session.

“That helped, to have someone who had no preconceived notions about me or who I was or anything,” the former boy bander explained.

The Ohio native rose to fame after collaborating with Harry Styles.
Luke Atkinson

Rowland has been an integral member of Styles’ touring band ever since, one who elicits ear-piercing cheers that sometimes rival the thunderous applause the headliner gets from his audience night after night.

Now, just seven years after his introduction to the world, Rowland is breaking out on his own as a folk artist with his first album, “Come June” (out Friday).

The release was a long time coming for the self-taught guitarist, who grew up listening to rock bands like the Black Crowes and began writing his own songs in college.

Rowland won a Grammy this year for his work with Styles (pictured here).
REUTERS

Rowland moved to Los Angeles in 2013 with no set plan in mind and picked up a job at a pizzeria while figuring out what he wanted to do with the music he’d been making in his bedroom.

“There was nothing for me to hold my hand — until I started working with Harry,” he has said, recalling how he and Styles “just clicked” from the get go. (Rowland also clicked with Styles’ drummer Sarah Jones, whom he went on to marry and have a child with.)


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“Come June” is a far more muted record than any of the three Styles albums Rowland has worked on. Don’t expect any “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” or “Watermelon Sugar” copycats here, though there are plenty of acoustic ditties like “Meet Me in the Hallway” and “Matilda.”

The new tracks include “Bluebells” and “Here Comes the Comeback.”
mitchrowland/Instagram

It doesn’t take much for the soft-voiced Rowland to entrance his listeners, from the dreamy Cranberries-esque opener, “Bluebells,” which he penned after finding out Jones was pregnant, to his stunning falsetto on the closing title track.

And Rowland isn’t afraid to flex the songwriting skills that won him a Grammy earlier this year; he croons about being cut “down to kindling” on “See the Way You Roll” and compares himself to a fly caught “deep in the spiderweb” on “Illusionist.”

There’s a refreshing simplicity to “Come June”: no big, radio-pandering choruses, five of its 12 songs clock in at under three minutes and only a few instruments come into play, making for an easily digestible — albeit safe — LP that’s perfect for the autumn months ahead.

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