The world is brimming with creativity and you can’t go one day without stumbling upon signs of that fact. So every now and then it just happens to be that a to me new songwriter or band passes by my field of view, or hearing, and I start liking what I hear with the help from the internet. The world is so neatly constructed that I can just sit in front of the computer and just let all the influences and sounds from all over the world wash over me. It’s incredibly convenient.
This has led me to dig deeper into the North American vein of popular and traditional music. A psychologist would call it a sort of therapeutic escapism, but yet again, what does a psychologist know about music? Ryan Smith just happens to be one of those bleeps on my radar right now and, indeed, he helps me turn my gloomy Swedish living room into an absolutely wonderful place of magic and mystery, except without all the exaggeration of course.
After five years of showing off true talent in songwriting, Smith has had his way led into another stage of his career with the June 2008 release of the six track EP I Just Wanted To Feel That Way. As always, the song craft is of old-school quality stamp measures. The image is still juvenile and freely contemplative. Whereas his indie poprock style hasn’t changed, his approach has become even more personal and fulfilling.
I can no longer place Ryan Smith somewhere between his namesake Elliott Smith and his almost namesake Bryan Adams. I know it doesn’t make any sense putting anyone between the two. However, even though Ryan Smith can have the coarseness of Bryan and the silky vocal qualities of Elliott, and even though he’s fully capable of writing both pop blasters and subtly orchestrated ballads, he has until now remained rather anonymous in style.
I Just Wanted To Feel That Way is his most ambitious work to date, yet it doesn’t succeed in creating something truly original and still that’s totally okay. Darker, more story-telling and emotionally intriguing than his previous work, the EP convinces me that Ryan Smith is no name to take lightly on in the future. In songs about breakup, good intentions leading to trouble, love and the aftermaths of a carcrash, I hear a strong songcraft and a singer-songwriter coming to his own. Since the only release not made available for free download through his MySpace, Someone Please Take Me Home from 2004, wasn’t a full album either, this EP tells us if anything that Smith is one for the future and that a debut full-length would be about darn time now. A psychologist would perhaps call this hyperbole, but yet again, what does a psychologist know about music?
I’d like to do a paraphrase from a line from the second track “This Is Not A Tragedy”:
“And you’d have to be half deaf not to hear the blessing in this.”