Ryan MacGrath: In My Own Company
In My Own Company
(Pigeon Row; 2009)
Ah, singer-songwriters: sensitive, literate, sophisticated poets with their acoustic guitars and delicate melodies, who would women love and men hate without you? Well, I guess now we have the Jonas Brothers, so you’re off the hook for now singer-songwriters, but I’ve got my eye on you…
But I kid, I kid. Luckily, MacGrath doesn’t subscribe to the ridiculous John Mayer school of singer-songwriter anyway (uch, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little) but rather, he’s more along the lines of a more personal, less Balkan Beirut or a somewhat less OUT Rufus Wainwright. And indeed, those two comparisons are quite apt, as MacGrath’s precious, somewhat theatrical vocal style bears a strong resemblance to Zach Condon’s (of Beirut) stylized tenor, while MacGrath’s dandy-like qualities (“is it really Louie Vutton? / Or is it a knockoff instead?” MacGrath inquires on “Bell Boy”) bear resemblance to none so fabulous as the inimitable Wainwright.
His debut EP, In My Own Company is a strong collection of ornate pop songs written with a wonderful literate flair, conjuring up images of 5th Avenue (“Bell Boy”), fairy tales (which he sort of debunks on “Cinderella”) and MacGrath’s home province of Nova Scotia (“Way West”, in which he dreams of running off to Alberta) magnificently. On most songs MacGrath sticks to his brand of theatrical, piano-based melodramatic pop, though he does get to throw in a nice modern day Can-indie rocker in “Featherweight” (which, with a different mix, could have been the single).
Unfortunately, the EP lacks any real standout songs or outstanding qualities to make it a smashing entrance for the talented MacGrath. Then again, none of the big indie bands of the last couple years blew the doors open with their first EP: that all came with the full-length. Regardless, In My Own Company marks a classy entrance for a talented, young singer-songwriter who, I’m sure, will be quickly embraced by his home province.
(Note: This review also appeared in the Dal Gazette)
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