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Folk Is Not A Dirty Word

The Royal Oui
The Royal Oui

Songwriter Ari Shine met his wife, Adrienne Pierce, in L.A.; the two immediately connected over shared interests like Canadian folk-rock band The Grapes of Wrath. Shine says the two worked in the music business together for years as an “undercover duo.” “We co-wrote Adrienne’s records,” he explains. “We were doing a lot of music together [for soundtracks] but we weren’t a band.” Eventually Shine and Pierce struck out on their own, forming The Royal Oui.

The group’s self-titled 2014 release is sparse and atmospheric Southern California indie-folk with a country edge — Shine’s voice supplying a subtle but solid underpinning to Pierce’s ethereal wanderings. All of it stands on simple but effective acoustic-guitar work, with occasional flourishes of mandolin and organ. The record is unrelentingly soft, straining the listener to pick out the music’s individual elements. But when the infectious tempo of “Heart Safe” kicks in, it more than makes up for the occasional lyrical groaner like “Water’s gonna float downstream/ ’Cause that’s just what water does,” from the song “True.”

“The emphasis is acoustic music. We’re totally OK with the folk label,” Shine says before adding, “We’re not a traditional folk band. When I think of a folk band I think of The Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary.”

“[Folk] is not a dirty word,” Pierce jokes. “It’s our goal to do as much as we can with just two people,” Shine continues. “Create the illusion of sound with more than what you see.”

The Royal Oui plays 9 pm Thursday, March 6, at Sam Bond’s; $4.