Thursday, October 12, 2023

Ryan Wayne Takes Listeners on a Folk Meets Psychedelic Journey In ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’

Toronto-based, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wayne has released his debut solo album ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows,’ a multi-layered and complex album that is sure to take listeners on a journey.

Initially gaining prominence as a founding member of the highly praised and award-winning band The Warped 45s. In early 2022, Ryan Wayne faced a clanging period, having had two strokes after a hiatus from touring and recording. As a part of his healing journey, he felt a compelling pull back to the realm of music embarking on the final stages of producing and mixing for a collection of self-produced songs that formed the core of the new album ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’. 

Commencing the album is ‘Forty Places To The Bottom,’ an introspective track that encapsulates the journey of one’s life with precision. It offers a combination of delicate guitar melodies with orchestral swirls that seamlessly harmonise with Wayne’s composed, but with an edge vocal delivery that reflects and perfectly navigates the idea that the past is gone. This slow and calming tempo soon transitions into expansive guitar-driven atmospherics that creates a compelling descent, serving as a poignant metaphor for the sudden pivotal moments that occur in life, evoking deep resonance with the listener.

‘Maybe I’m To Blame’ is a sonic journey that meanders with a sense of intoxication and a version of Ryan Wayne coming to terms with their role in the dissolution of a relationship. The track evokes a unique fusion of folk and psychedelic rock, flowing with hazy soundwaves that perfectly mimic a drunken state transporting the listener exactly where Wayne wants them. ‘Maybe I’m To Blame’ fuses together the ethereal stylings of Pink Floyd and The Beatles’ later work with his own unique flair using captivating crescendos and spirited guitars. 

‘Wherever You Land’ resonates with themes of resilience and solace to those who weathered the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The track opens with sound propagation, weird and wonderful waves build up and draw into ‘Wherever You Land,’ a timeless piece that serves as a heartfelt tribute to John Prine, a legendary singer-songwriter in the country-folk music scene. Ryan Wayne similarly uses twangy guitar elements with gentle vocal stylings and harmonies to encapsulate Prine but adds his own psychedelic verve that consistently builds up throughout and reaches a piteous, but satisfying climax. 

‘Oh My Maria’ is deep-rooted in folk-rock tradition, using string picking on the guitar to create a light melody for an enchanting tune. The song delves into the intricate emotions that arise when addiction and love intersect. Amidst a backdrop of mesmerising musical textures, Ryan Wayne confronts a difficult yet vital decision, as expressed in the chorus “Don’t you pretend that you don’t know why I’m acting this way.” This perfectly conveys an inner struggle to maintain compassion while simultaneously setting boundaries in a relationship. 

‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’ follows a somewhat enigmatic narrative, on one hand, it perfectly paints a love story, an emerging romance told through awe-inspired, rose-tinted goggles. On the other, Wayne creates the image of an unnamed, seductive woman and a one-sided relationship, as expressed in the lyrics “You are crow amongst the sparrows and I followed you to an empty apartment in search of the truth.”  ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’ is artistically manipulated by deep, rich guitar tones and timbres, an unhurried tempo, and intimate vocals that allow Wayne to cleverly beckon the listener to lean in and immerse themselves in the song’s mystique and leave much of the imagination to them.

‘Overheard In An All Night Diner’ is rich with distorted guitars and ethereal synthesisers to create a fog-like ambience and dream-like state. With an overall eerie feel, Wayne shows through this track that he is a master of creating a reverberating atmosphere and is able to transport listeners to an all-American diner. 

‘I Will Always Be There For You,’ a love song that Ryan Wayne wrote for his wife on their ten-year anniversary ending the entire album perfectly, taking on a happy, romantic note. 

Ryan Wayne shows his attention to detail throughout ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’ through his lyricism but also deep within the instrumentals by perfectly blending folk rock with the heavy distortion and hazed-like effect from psychedelic. This confused concoction works on every level and makes way for a highly complex and addictive album. 

Ana Joy King


Image: ‘Crow Amongst The Sparrows’ Official Album Cover

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