Charles Ryan Davis keeps his persona under-the-radar and lets the music do the talking with this latest album release. Four is a playlist that speaks volumes on behalf of the passion and creativity of the artist – leading with poetic imagery, a totally unique and characterful yet melodically satisfying vocal, and an organic musical set-up that’s as comforting and genuine as it is unpredictable and expressively free.
Cymbal + Kick begins the project and is all of this and more. A structural complex song that sees Davis introduce his music as thoughtful and observational all at once. A subtle acoustic rhythm is all that’s needed to accompanying the stories and ideas within. Y.I:Try follows on with an even more addictive and rhythmically engaging musicality and melody – short lines and simple phrases paint an intriguing picture before you. Certain phrases feel strangely familiar, others provoke a deeper level of thinking; adding mystery, and intelligent, often theatrical reflections on life.
I’m reminded slightly of a friend – Pete Murphy‘s music hits with a similar level of freedom and artistry. This is perhaps an acoustic, intimate alternative – though not without a few layers and details that reach out with volume and grit. Y.I:Try is a brilliant song, one that leaves something of a silent void when it comes to an end.
A.O.S.4:L sees that grit and weight hit a little more intensely, a clear-cut and stronger vocal accompanies some equally passionate acoustic guitar playing. While the music is quick to engage and entertain, the lyrics are superb – fascinating and consistently original; the sort that beg for you to listen a few times over, obsessing perhaps over the thoughts and rhymes within. Davis’ voice sounds stunning here, confident and soulful, sharp yet entrancing.
Adding further eclecticism, Haaaaanging on the Wall mellows things out to a slow and shoulder-swaying groove, as Davis’ voice rises up and falls back down accordingly – following the changing stages of the song; the counting, the progressing of time. His voice again evolves throughout, moving from subtle and uncertain, to secure and mighty for the latter half. At this point it’s clear that Charles Ryan Davis offers an undeniably original and refreshing style of songwriting – time and time again, without fail.
Ballooooon is an outstanding song, a personal favourite and a definite highlight from this album. Stunning vocal work, paired to reinforce certain peaks within the story – a compelling story-line, one that holds on to your attention right the way through. Meanwhile, the simple strum of an acoustic guitar, a select few chords – moving from major to minor and back as the details progress – a colourful bass-line. Everything about this satisfies and mystifies in a distinctly addictive way. A beautiful piece of music and writing, powerfully performed.
B:O.K. follows on and brightens the mood with a folk-pop hit that feels widely accessible and easily likable. Once again, things don’t purely remain as they seem – Davis makes sure to incorporate a few moments of vocal passion and strength that add an uplifting hit of contrast. Melancholy then returns as Y.I:Cry sweeps in with its wave-like finger-picking and personal outpouring of vulnerability. The song moves from good to great as it goes on.
Davis has mastered the art of turning acoustic simplicity into an absolute performance – emotional and captivating, brilliantly skillful. A live show would be superb, though sadly Charles Ryan Davis doesn’t perform or appear anywhere as a musician; other than within the music he releases online. In a way, this makes this playlist all the more enjoyable – it feels like a rare appearance, a one-of-a-kind chance to escape into something truly unique.
Leaves + Limbs brings the album to a finish with poetic imagery and a simple shuffle of a backdrop. Davis’ voice and the structure of the song hit with lasting impact as they fill the room. The ideas leave you wondering, a common trait of the songwriter’s, and thus – the process starts again. We head back to the beginning, and quickly add the whole album to the long-term playlist. Wonderful music, a real pleasure to spend an hour with.