The ever-recognisable Charles Ryan Davis fronts an elusive The Key Of Green for this brand new EP of originals. Seeing the songwriter join forces with electric guitarist Evan Wooley, the project ventures through poetic storytelling in an experimental, intriguing, hard-hitting fashion.
Knifelike Nightlife kicks things off, contrasting sublime bass-work with a lighter guitar tone and a raspy, characterful, theatrical vocal – drawing comparisons initially with The Doors, then progressing to a much more punk-rock-kissed style, with far more structure and melody.
A powerful song, brilliantly individual and skillfully performed. While there’s a lot going on, these organic layers and the simple melodic progression draw focus to the concept and mood in a refreshingly real way. Originality and creativity thrive here. That leading riff lingers with you long after listening. A great start that promises big things for the rest of the EP.
Qualities that stand tall throughout this project are of course Charles Ryan Davis’ gorgeously unique, expressive and hypnotic vocals, the powerful and authentic hit of the instrumentation, and the sublimely unusual nature of the songwriting. These poetic insights and observations entrance and provoke thought that roams far beyond the average contemporary pop track.
Down a Quarter continues with the same high-energy, tightness, precision, and personality. The story is a little more literal here, detailed and clear-cut. Still you get that rhythm, foot-stomping from the offset, and the unexpected progression from the verse chords to the hook. The hook in this case is a defiant highlight. Elsewhere the music and the unity between this and the vocals helps really embrace and entertain listeners. Despite its negative connotations, there’s an uplifting energy to the repetition of The future’s looking awfully bleak...
From age-old rhymes to classic rock rhythms and fake news, this EP provides a conceptual, deeply thoughtful and blissfully creative look at the tales of our time.
Homicidal Sole is oddly beautiful, a moment of pause and simple, bluesy melodic riff work. Seductive guitars and space unite amidst another quickly fickle progression. From joy to uncertainty, calmness to chaos, the song tells a fascinating story, whilst offering yet another brilliantly original composition and performance. I do believe I’ve said it before, but what a songwriter. Originality roams with pride here.
If it’s not the stories that appeal here, let it be Charles’ flawless, gritty vocals, or the stunning guitar work and raw, real drum sound.
Wreck of Nerves follows on with pace and power, injecting a rock anthem that showcases a faster delivery, which heightens the mood of the room in a powerful, inescapable fashion. I heard a touch of Pearl Jam to the drop back into the raspy vocals following an instrumental, guitar solo-led break. Then it all falls away, and folk briefly leads you on for a moment, before the fullness kicks back in with absolute weight and authority.
Time Once Upon stands out for its spacious set-up and this immediately long-form verse melody. That smokey, bluesy vibe returns, before being replaced by a theatre-soaked rise up to alternative rock escapism. Those guitars – immense and beautiful. Here the songwriting conjures up some decidedly poignant, relevant ideas that linger along with the melancholic, considerate mood of the music.
Americana swagger introduces the final track of the project, a seductive and intriguing The Message. A longer introduction keeps your focus on the music, which creates a likable, cool ambiance straight away. The vocals then appear with an almost spoken word minimalism – and with that, a sense of rising anticipation; incoming intensity. Things get personal, deeply so, and more of that instrumental space works hard to fill the gaps between story-telling. A powerful, strangely hopeful and bright soundscape proceeds to emerge. A mighty hook, extended and uniquely placed, repeats its simple message and melody in a satisfying, memorable way.
Originality and realness are hard to come by these days, they’re difficult traits to capture – at least when trying to also present something musically impressive and professional. The Key Of Green is a project that has absolutely mastered these qualities, and this EP brings a short yet striking collection of utterly invigorating new songs. Well worth spending time with.
EP Out February 28th.