Friday, November 16, 2007

Reviews:: Tyler Ramsey A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea

The double-edged sword of publicity is hovering over Tyler Ramsey. He recently became a guitarist for Band of Horses (who have showed up in more TV ads than Peyton Manning) and is gaining some press as a result.

But his record is not the kind that will grab most listeners after a quick once over. He doesn't search for the type of hooks that give songs the immediacy people crave. There are no soaring anthems or sonic explosions and I hope that doesn't lead to a quick dismissal by fickle fans, because Ramsey's debut - A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea - moves at a constant shuffle, and rewards those who take the time to listen intently.

Simply put, it's breath taking. His vocals and gentle folk melodies will warm the hearts of any Mark Kozalek fan (at points the similarity in voice is striking), but I feel like I'm slighting him by forcing him into a sound. The songs are beautiful, reveal themselves slowly and deserve to stand on their own. A Long Dream opens the record, and the gentle folk picking is paired with some static and Ramsey's soothing warble. The song resists any temptation to speed up or morph over the full six-minutes. Instead a subtle beat drives the song and gentle splashes of fiddle and vibraphone circle around his words effortlessly.

That vibe continues on Ships. The drums, electric piano and fiddle never escalate above the sound of casual conversation, and you feel like your having a conversation with him, listening to him expose his fragilities. You can almost picture him singing this song with his eyes closed, oblivious to the audience steadily growing around him, and that sincerity and insecurity are what makes this record so great.

A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea is consistent but anything but boring. Ramsey is able to drift from style to style without disrupting the flow of the record. The blues guitar work and staccato burst that fill out Chinese New Year. The spirited take on Jackson Browne's These Days. The marching band snare drum that shows up on When I Wake. The incessant buzz and minimal drum machine beat that echo in the vast emptiness on the first two minutes of Once In Your Life. These are the elements that push his folk influences past the typical genre boundaries. The fuzzed guitar that meanders around the harmonies on No One Goes Out are perfect for anyone choosing to embrace their sadness.

In all honesty, I can't find a fault in this release. It won't make you want to dance or scream along to big choruses with your brohams on a Friday night (although dudes screaming along to "all I gotta do is get high" seems inevitable), but songs like Worried are comforting and Ramsey's beautiful folk inspired tracks are going to warm my apartment on many a morning this autumn.

MP3:: No One Goes Out
E-card :: myspace :: web site

Posted at 6:12 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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