Bill Ryder-Jones
Yawn
Domino Records
★★★★★

Four albums into his career and Bill Ryder-Jones continues to amass a grand scale of talent with Yawn. Digging into this release is like walking into an empty cathedral and asking for understanding but realizing just how human everything is along the way.

The dynamics on Yawn are extraordinary. Ryder-Jones carefully constructs fragility, crafting music like he’s in surgery. The back porch acoustics on “Recover” carefully sucks up the air around him and exhales as he sings, “The silence is killing me.” There is power in his truth, battling between internal conflict and natural law. The only enlightenment is in his struggle. It’s in that context that we can relate.

“There Is Something On Your Mind” is a lazy river of backroom bar balladry, all pushed forward by wet brushes scrapping out a  beat. As the song crescendos, it ends in a grotesquely shocking array of electric guitar feedback. Obscene gestures are wrapped in feedback. Ryder-Jones has just proven his effectiveness on both sides of the spectrum.

Bill Ryder-Jones – Don’t Be Scared, I Love You (Official Video)

His thoughts float by giving us a glimpse at his cerebral observations. From the single-worthy “And Then There’s You” to the haunting letter of “John,” Yawn is a snapshot that builds part travelogue and part memoir.

I want to say that this is a perfect album, but it would be doing Yawn a disservice. It’s the imperfections that mean the most in this dichotomy of human interaction between the role of the lyricist and the role as the musician. Yet, Ryder-Jones knows when to stir the pot for effect or hide in the confines of his own multi-instrumental talent Either way, you are going to get a masterful work. I cannot think of anyone else who can take something at a base level and make it stand out the way Ryder-Jones does.

Categories: Reviews

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