Monday, May 19, 2014

Ryan Joseph Anderson Sweeps A Debut

Ryan Joseph Anderson
Former frontman of the Chicago-based garage rock band Go Long Mule recently relocated to Nashville to record and release and his solo debut The Weaver's Broom. What happened next surprised even him.

"I had planned to make a very stripped-back record," said Ryan Joseph Anderson. "With the help of engineer/co-producer Andrija Tokic, drummer Dave Racine, multi-instrumentalist Jon Estes, and vocalist Jen Donahue, the songs quickly took new shape in the studio."

Anderson had written all the songs over the past year on his acoustic guitar and piano. But as he worked on them with Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Clear Plastic Masks) at the Bomb Shelter studio in Nashville, it became clear that the eclectic singer-songwriter was onto something with a much bigger sound.

The Weaver's Broom is a stunning surprise debut. 

With elements of Southern rock, country, folk, and a hint of blues, Anderson has captured a harmonic mix of soul-searched music. Some people will notice the new album features the open tunings of Nick Drake and empathic broodiness of Tom Waits's quieter moments.

The richness of the compositions immediately draw you into the music while the delivery locks in your attention and waits for something to happen. Anderson rarely disappoints in doing so, creating an assortments of confessionals, contemplative Southern folk stories, and occasional boot worn ballroom track.

The first video released from the album, Fortune And Fate, is a choppy stop-motion storyline created by Anderson along with his girlfriend and artist Jen Donahue (who also sings on the album). The stop-motion artwork tells the story in a diorama-like presentation and reinforces the morbidness of the song with nothing more than massive amounts of construction paper, glue, and Popsicle sticks.

Like many of his songs on the album, Anderson wanted to get out of his comfort zone. With most members of Go Long Mule pursuing other projects, it seemed like the right time to go out alone.

Fortune And Fate only represents one thread in a much larger musical tapestry created by Anderson. Crooked Heart, which opens the album, sets a cold and considerate mood. It's a folk song at heart, but with country overtones as its soul.

Weep Caroline is a much more predictable as a slow burn country slow dance song. It coveys Anderson's unique ability to deliver up sorrow and warmth at the same time. The lyrics are powerfully sad, but he sings them with such conviction that it is easy to feel redemption for it.

Jericho has a quicker, more upbeat tempo as he breaks into some solid, albeit moody storytelling. The track carries with it a remarkable stillness that he abandons in the next track. Wandering Apparition, much like When The Bees Went Mad, attempts to bounce his natural broodiness into ballroom scoots.

Both songs work for what they are even if they never quite capture the unsettling stillness of his slower and softer pieces. Before The War, The Weaver's Broom, and Mission Bell all carry his ability to transport his audience away from wherever they are into the outback, hills, and wildness. The music is reminiscent of a rural rain shower, somewhere far off from the trappings of the city.

The Weaver's Broom Is An Anderson Sweep At 5.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

All in all, The Weaver's Broom goes a long way in establishing Anderson as a brilliant singer-songwriter with a long solo career ahead of himself.

You can find The Weaver's Broom by Ryan Joseph Andersen on Amazon or download tracks from iTunes. Most of Anderson's shows are booked throughout the Midwest into July, but there is a good chance he will  expand his schedule deep into the summer. His upcoming tour dates are posted on Facebook.
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