– Thirteen EP Review

ryan key thirteen

Yet another great review of Ryan Key’s new EP, Thirteen, has been published from Check out the wonderful things they had to say about the EP – coming out this Friday! – right down below under the cut:

When you hear the name [William] Ryan Key, your immediate thought is Yellowcard. For 17 years Key helped form the foundation of the Alternative Rock scene – and for that we are as thankful as he is proud. The music he put out with the guys of Yellowcard morphed our adolescence and gave us a musical way of seeing our thoughts and issues we may have been facing. While the departure of Yellowcard hurt just a tad [let’s be real, we took it hard] – we knew in our hearts that Ryan was far from done with the music world. While we knew it was time to say goodbye to Ryan Key of Yellowcard, we now get to welcome William Ryan Key with open arms as he debuts his first solo EP, Thirteen – which comes out this Friday [5/25] on The Lone Tree Recordings.

When it came time to actually creating this first collection of solo work, Key noted that “It took a long time to find my own focus and direction after 17 years in a band. However, once I found it, the music felt like coming home. There was new freedom and creativity that I channeled into each of the songs.” – and with that we dive into these 5 incredibly powerful and raw acoustic tracks.

With the somber beginning of “Old Friends” taking a look back on past mistakes and how to begin to move forward – which really just embodies what this EP is about, a fresh start. Thirteen focuses on a pivotal time in Key’s life, from 2013 – which William mentions it being “a really difficult year for both me and the people I love” – following the journey until now. There’s no doubt, he’s proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish with Yellowcard, but being in a band can be one of the most complicated relationships. It’s not just your needs that have to be met, and put that band in a very specific genre with a specific sound that’s well established, it can be damn near impossible to cleanly venture into a new way of creating music. With Thirteen, William can spread his wings a bit further [and freely] than he was able to do when writing in a ‘rock band’.

We got a taste of his new style with his first release off the EP, “Vultures“. It has a familiar beginning, and it hints at the style of the Yellowcard we love & remember, but as the track plays on you hear William’s original twangs that have been hidden for all these years. A rhythm that wouldn’t fit as neatly into the Yellowcard mold as it does with his solo work.

“Form & Figure” really gives a deeper peek in the direction that Key has planned for his new music. With a level, even tempo melody throughout the track, his voice dances across in lyrics that paint a darker memory. While the entire EP is acoustic this is one of those tracks that lives at the heart in the acoustic world – there’s no fancy back track, no intense key-change – just raw, honest vocals. Vocals that create images in your head in the form of a bright child’s illustration, bouncy through mind – but soon turns to a realistic nightmare as the words sink in and coat the walls of your memory in a bleak shade of grey.

But what follows the solemn end of “Form & Figure” is a hopeful “Thirty Days“. At the base of this record, Key keeps the music very simple – the power is in his words and the music is just there to compliment and finish off the imagery. This is truly the most stripped down we’ve ever seen him – but it all feels very right. After nearly 2 decades of experiencing William Ryan Key as this intense performer in everything he had put out [including love songs & ballads], in Thirteen we see the birth of a new chapter. Not quite a ‘redo’ but more of a step to the left, walking on the path covered in leaves to see what comes unearthed. As it mentions in the final track of the EP [“Great Unknown“], “Funny how time doesn’t mind, who we keep and who we bare to leave behind. So into this great unknown, I will wonder on my own” – when it comes down to it, it’s just us as an individual at the end of the day. Sure we have our friends and family [and fans] that have been our support team – but at the end of the day, when we close our eyes, it’s just us alone in our minds. We all have hopes and dreams that don’t always pan out how we originally planned, but that’s all aligned with fate. While we have some impact on which path in fate we take, at the end is always our destiny – unknown.

There is still time to pre-order a signed copy of Thirteen [available Here] – but in the mean time, let your mind wonder, don’t let fear hold you back from discovery, ‘Dream. Try. Do Good’ [q. Mr. Feeny]


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