Skip to main content

72. Ryan Lee - The Pride Before The Fall (2004)

I knew Ryan as a friend before I knew him as a songwriter / performer. Take my word for it, he's a warm, caring, funny, guy. He's easygoing and easy to talk to. But look at him scowling on the cover of his first full-length CD and take a listen to some of the mysterious, dramatic songs he writes and it seems like the work of a completely different person!

But that's what artists do. They take the troublesome stuff in their heads and get it out in their work. If I think of it that way, it's not such a jarring disconnect. And anyway, this should be all about the music, not my issues.

I've seen Ryan perform in a variety of settings: Solo shows in coffee shops, loud full-band shows in bars, and stuff in between. Thus I've heard many of his songs performed in drastically different ways. What's amazing is how great they all SOUND here, not just arrangement and performance wise, but also from a production and engineering standpoint.

I've always known Ryan was talented, but the treatment given to these songs really allows their complexity to be appreciated. Many of the tracks manage to marry several musical ideas together without any hint of difficulty. The opener I Pretend, with its Middle Eastern-style chanting and instrumentation also gives us a sudden, welcome bed of female harmony in the bridge. Similarly, the clanging Guilt opens its second half with a riff worthy of an arena full of delirious lighter-wavers.

Ryan's songs manage to avoid typical pop structures without sacrificing the melodies. For proof listen to the brief, thrilling sketch Soulstrings. I hate to make comparisons, but his work reminds me most of Joseph Arthur, with the senses of sweetness and menace, the elements of gentle melody and clanging mechanics put in a musical mixer with amazing results.

The album itself doesn't make a false move from the beginning through the powerful Policia Falsa and Guilt. Though, it rounds itself out well with the hits What's Worse, Too Close To Home and If Anything, my only quibble is with Too Little Too Late. The vocal processing doesn't seem to serve the song and there isn't enough musical variety to keep it from sinking under its own weight. But that's only 1 out of 13, my friend. Anybody would take those odds.

With all the work he's done, it's nice to see Ryan Lee getting some local recognition and actually going out on tour! If you'd like more information, please visit www.ryanleemusic.net. Check out the bio, find tour dates, listen to the songs, and e-mail Ryan to tell you how much you like them. If you do, maybe it'll even make him smile!

Grade: B+
Fave Song: Soulstrings

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Weezer is the Definitive Gen X Band

I’ve been thinkin’ ‘bout my g-g-g-generation.   One of the more fascinating side effects of the ever-intensifying culture wars is the emergence of generational mud-slinging battle between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Social media has played the role of both venue and promoter, and news outlets have done their best to cheer it on. As a member of the cohort that's situated between the two factions - Generation X - and thus removed from the fray, I've regarded this as an amusing sideshow in the never-ending circus of nauseating Internet discourse. The most illuminating part to me is how the conflict, and various reports about it, consistently omits the existence the generation between these two, and how very appropriate that is.   Now I'll start with the disclaimer that I'm well aware that no group of people is homogeneous. Generation X encompasses many different personality types, cultural experiences, economic realities, and a possible 15-year age difference (Gen Xers

20 From 2020

Every year since 2003 (coincidentally, the year I started this blog), I've made a compilation of some of my favorite songs of the year. I love the act of compiling and ordering, finding songs that speak to one another lyrically and that flow together seamlessly.  In order for the mixes to have longevity, I've typically avoided choosing too many songs that lyrically reflect the events of the year. That's gotten harder every year since 2016, and I was initially worried 2020 was going to be the tipping point. This year's mix might have looked a lot different if the presidential election had gone the other way. It would have certainly been more angry and despairing, and would have included such topical songs as Ben Folds's "2020," Ben Gibbard's "Proxima B," and Sloan's "Silence Trumps Lies." All good tunes, but I'm not sure how much I'll want to revisit them. Thankfully, instead, we have a mix with a variety of moods and cov

12 More by Jimmy Eat World

Sometimes an artist just needs 12  more  songs to summarize their career. Case in point... Sometimes your favorite band sneaks up on you. I'd been a Jimmy Eat World fan since the late 1990s, and have never missed one of their albums. But they didn't become my favorite band until a 2013 concert at First Avenue, where I found myself singing along with every single song by heart. It was then that I realized that for every phase of my adult life, Jimmy Eat World has been there to soundtrack it. You'll definitely want to check out the  12 by Jimmy Eat World  list to relive the first part of their career. 1. "Big Casino" (from Chase This Light , 2007) A highly caffeinated tune that contains one of my top ten all-time Jimmy Eat World lyrics: "Well there's lots of smart ideas in books I've never read / When the girls come talk to me I wish to hell I had." 2. "Always Be" (from  Chase This Light , 2007) Chase This Light came out when I was 30 yea