Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ryan Schmidt - Black Sheep, Run

Album: Black Sheep, Run
Artist: Ryan Schmidt
Release: 2010

Ryan Schmidt was recommended to me by one of those people who really should know about this sort of thing, so of course I gave him a listen.  I was told by the aforementioned source that the wicked talented Paula Kelley has worked with him as did Aaron Tap, so it has to be good stuff, right? (After Modern Love, Airports this and this, I'm starting to think I should just consult with Mr. Tap before I buy any new music.  And by "consult with" I mean I'll just use this as my shopping list.) After a quick listen on his website, I knew I should own some of his music so I snagged Black Sheep, Run that very night.

The first thing I notice about this album is that it doesn't sound like your typical "singer/songwriter" fare.  The rich instrumentation alone is not like anything I'd expect to hear from that genre.  But this is by no means "pop" music either - at least not by my definition.  He is far too bold with his word choices for that. He actually uses words like "incognito", "misconstrue" and "bereaved" (you knows, words that Katy & Justin don't understand), and he actually makes them work in the songs.  So right away I know that these songs are going to transcend genre - and that is awesome. 

My current favorite song on this album is "Lost Somewhere", it kind of follows the Pixies' loud-quiet-loud formula.  The first couple times I listened to it, I thought it felt like two different songs mashed together.  The chorus is so different from the verse, but all at once it clicked and I get it now.  Now it sounds just wonderful.  Another one that has a dramatic shift is "Wake Up With You".  In the beginning, it's a quiet song, featuring the vocal (which is very nice), then about two minutes in the music explodes in your head - in the best possible way. 

I'm not sure how old Ryan is, he looks quite young, but don't be fooled, this is not the voice or the lyrics of a kid.  His voice is rich and pleasant and while he does take some risks, so far it all seems to be working for him.  While this record is treading some well covered ground, the realm of relationships and all the shit that can go wrong and right, it feels like a fresh take on an age old subject.  It's innovative and interesting to listen to, both musically and lyrically.

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