Artist: Ryan Neilson
Album: Four Walls
Genre: Alt Pop/Rock
Sounds Like: John Mayer
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Hello Houston, Back To Life, Slow, Funny, Heart
From the eastern corner of the world known as Nova Scotia, comes Ryan Neilson, a singer/songwriter/musician. I first listened to his project while driving and I was immediately compelled to write a review for it - literally - by pulling over and jotting down my thoughts. His debut project revives the art of lyric writing and storytelling through songs, while evoking the essence of 70s musicianship with a contemporary flair.
His opening song and most commercial track, "Hello Houston," finds him coming to the realization that he’s done trying to be someone else and discovers the joy of being himself after trying to walk a country mile in someone else’s shoes. It’s an immediate attention grabber and has immense radio and licensing appeal with its sing-along chorus, infectious melodies, and identifiable lyrics.
Ryan’s identity, talent and musical influences are brilliantly showcased in this timeless project with the superlative production of Tim Feswick, he succeeds in delivering one of the few CDs I’ve heard this year that can be listened to - and enjoyed - in its entirety.
In true (great) songwriting fashion, Ryan finds an unfamiliar way to write about familiar situations as evidenced in “Back To Life” where he laments about love lost while expressing hope…of being brought back to life and “Slow,” which speaks of romantic bliss and the feeling of insatiability that accompanies it. Both songs are sure to draw John Mayer comparisons, but it’s the Simon & Garfunkel-esque “Funny,” a series of anecdotes about how nothing goes according to plan, the thought provoking “Color Blind,” and the inspirational and uplifting closing track, “Heart” which add depth and elevate him to another level.
With a project this good, it will take more than Four Walls to keep Ryan in Nova Scotia.