Music News

The Belle Jar

Presumably because there is no shortage of prominent Ryans making music these days, Ryan James decided to record his indie-folk debut under a moniker inspired by a Sylvia Plath novel. Although he has recruited a band since the release of Fall Systems Go, here he handles all the vocals and plays every instrument on the album, from guitars, pedal steel and banjo to keyboards and percussion. With that in mind, it's not surprising that the album was two years in the making, recorded in houses, churches and hotel rooms. Nearly every one of the thirteen tracks on Fall Systems Go feels deliberate and labored over. Taking a few cues from Iron & Wine, especially on cuts like "The Gold Rush Crowd" and "Solitaire Song," and Wilco on "Here in California," James displays a knack for writing heartfelt ballads while still managing to rock out on tracks like "Coney Island Day."

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon