Ryan Powers Boyle is a walking conradiction.
For instance, the musician with indie rock’s most profound live show wants you to think he’s just like everyone else. He’d like you to believe he fits snugly into the current indie scene, love to convince you he perfectly matches the mold stamped by today’s It band, be thrilled to persuade you that he’s in line to follow in the steps of this generation’s greats, spinning their ideas and achievements into footholds upon which to lead the next wave of indie musicians forward.
But no, he’s not any of those things -- he’s Ryan Powers Boyle, and he’s putting the ‘independent’ back into indie music, whether he’d prefer it that way or not.
Ryan is all about lyrics, and though the indie-folk-rock artist from St. Petersburg, Florida’s poetic songwriting style is sometimes at odds with today’s sonic-driven timbre of the mainstream indieverse, he is intent on carving out a Ryan Powers Boyle-sized niche in which to hang his hat.
Part Conor Oberst and part David Bowie, Ryan falls on Indie 2010 ears in much the same manner as Khalil Gibran did to 1923 readers with the publication of his mystical, poetic, and mold-shattering The Prophet -- a touch out of step with his contemporaries, yet possessing of an undeniable beauty and timelessness readily perceptible in the work.
Ryan’s 2010 self-titled concept album (July 20, Far and Away Records) tells the story of a man living through ten chapters of life, and set to music many of the musician’s observations on living, spirituality, and personal narrative. Though Ryan Powers Boyle was well-received by fans and critics alike, Ryan aimed to take the effort a step further this fall, announcing the It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange film project, in which Ryan enlisted a host of talented filmmakers and animators from around the world to create a one-of-a-kind visual component to the music album.
Set to premiere in St. Petersburg on October 14 as part of a 200-date North American tour, It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange is comprised of ten short films and will play concurrent with Ryan’s musical performances as part of his live show. Already creating a heady buzz online, It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange and Ryan Powers Boyle have been covered by the likes of Rock and Roll Report, GeekTyrant, MusicRemedy, AltSounds, and many others.
Check out ryanpowersboyle.com/film for more information on It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange and its contributing filmmakers.
Ryan Powers Boyle - Vocals, Piano, electric and acoustic guitars, MacBook Pro
October 2010 - It's All So Beautiful, It's All So Strange (DVD)
July 2010 - Ryan Powers Boyle (self-titled LP)
2006 - Now or Never (EP)
It's All So Beautiful, It's All So Strange
Chapel of Love
A Girl and A World
A Matter of Miles
"If Carl Jung was an indie radio DJ, this is the stuff he would play."
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I know I use the word great loosely and with some regularity. Someone asks me how I am doing and I s...I know I use the word great loosely and with some regularity. Someone asks me how I am doing and I say "great" when I might not be doing "pretty good" or even just "OK". In this case however, I mean it in the truest sense of the word. Ryan Powers Boyle's self titled CD is a great album of songs.
If you read nothing else of what is going to probably turn into an essay below, just know that the CD is (let me say it again) great and you should get it if you like richness, complexity, lyrical poetry, melody, and don't have any genre-centric biases that would turn you away from a blend of acoustic, rock, and ambient elements. (http://www.ryanpowersboyle.com/fr_index.cfm)
Randomly playing a few mp3s from Ryan's web page, as I have several times, does not do the album justice. Sure, any of Ryan's songs individually are very good especially if you are into the genre, which I still struggle to pin down. I could probably describe fans of this type of work and maybe name some other bands they might like with more ease than I could try to classify the music itself but from the very first time I listened to one of Ryan's songs - nearly 3 years ago when it seems he began putting some of them together - I recognized immediately that it was strong work, that a large audience was out there for it, and that Ryan was an excellent musician and writer with grand ideas about what he wanted to create.
First thing to note is it is really pretty original. Some of Ryan's influences will be clear when listening (think of any member of The Traveling Wilburys or their various offspring and they're probably accounted for here) but I have a pretty wide exposure to music in all sorts of styles and periods and I cannot think of anything that Ryan could be trying to emulate. If there is something he is emulating, it is too obscure for me to sort out. Oddly enough, the stuff that this reminds me of the most isn't American or even English. It is probably closer to Darkwood than James Blunt. In fact there are none of the efforts at soulfulness, blues-iness, or funkiness that is a really popular trend among most of the bigger male singer-songwriters right now.
That's not to say it doesn't have a soul. It is romantic, wistful, sentimental, cautionary, meditative, and at times desperate and even angry. The whole thing plays like a vast epic poem. The last thing I heard that had a similar epic flow though the sound was quite different, was The Good, the Bad, and the Queen, which is a Blur/Gorillaz side project. It has the conceptual depth of early Bowie but with the sentimental maturity of later Bowie. Let me put it this way ... if Carl Jung was an indie radio DJ, this is the stuff he would play.
The overall sound is (and I hate to say this because I know it will be a gross oversimplification) indie-folk, which if you've watched a recent indie film or have seen a commercial for any hip new piece of green technology will be a familiar sound to you. It seems there are 10 new artists calling themselves indie or folk entering the mix virtually every 5 minutes but far from leading to a dime-a-dozen dismissal by the public, the freedom of independent production continues to unveil treasures and the sophisticated and less than sophisticated listener alike has stayed engaged - and why not?
While this group of musical artists is strong with talent, it seems that the best of them can differentiate themselves as has Ryan Powers Boyle. The album runs a great dynamic range and properly pulls you in building to a climax, which for me came about the 9th track, A Matter of Miles, then ends on a strong track, Far and Away that reminds me a little of one of the Radiohead tracks near the end of OK Computer.
The songs on the album that I enjoyed most are some of the ones I hadn't heard before as Ryan did a pretty good job of not leaking all of his material in advance of the release. I hesitate to rattle of songs I like because I really want to encourage people to try to listen to this as an album instead of as singles.
That said if you really have no intention of buying a whole CD and Ryan decides to sell individual tracks as mp3 downloads, check out The Cell (which I had heard and was my favorite before the album release), It's All So Beautiful, It's All So Strange (takes a cool turn about 3.5 min in), Uncertain (seems predictable when it starts but turns into a completely different song as it progresses - definitely one of the more elaborate compositions), and Through This Life (has an ambient rainy sound that also could be mistaken for tape or vinyl noise, which gives the track an added sense of mystique and authenticity).
I also really enjoyed the cover of Chapel of Love, which is one of the simpler, more folky renderings.
The textured artwork, photography, and hand-scripted lyrics within the packaging, which is in a gorgeous 16 page insert is first rate and completely matches the sound of the album. (Great job, Mrs. Katie Boyle)
The only small risk I see is for this album to be unreasonably passed over by some surface listeners as pretentious, arty, melodramatic, or pseudo-spiritual. Having spent time with Ryan on many occasions, I know all this is genuine even if I don't really "know" Ryan. I think I know him more from listening to the music now than from hanging out with him. It is simply the real deal, written with real inspiration and passion and I have no doubt that once copies of this start getting press, the effort will get the due credit it deserves and maybe 3 years from now (4 if you count the year off from writing he'll take for a live effort - 9 months of that practicing and 3 months actually playing), we'll get another killer album.
This first album is better than most any good artist's 5th album.
Buy it at www.ryanpowersboyle.com/music.
Meticulous and Moving
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Ryan Powers Boyle is an artist who doesn’t let his meticulous approach to songcraft get in the way o...Ryan Powers Boyle is an artist who doesn’t let his meticulous approach to songcraft get in the way of the songs themselves, which pulse with life and energy under his Lou Barlow-esque drawl. Alternately nostalgic and uplifting, this album paints a richly textured sonic landscape, full of expertly applied flourishes and dynamic shifts. It's great stuff."
Quote from Renowned Producer
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”(It's All So Beautiful, It's All So Strange) is really beautiful, I love it! Anyways, if you're pa...”(It's All So Beautiful, It's All So Strange) is really beautiful, I love it! Anyways, if you're passing through Northern California make sure to stop by the studio and say hi!”
Beautifully Written and Performed
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Reviewing Ryan Powers Boyle's eponymous album was very challenging! On the first listen, I was try...
Reviewing Ryan Powers Boyle's eponymous album was very challenging! On the first listen, I was trying to evaluate each track as if it were a "song", in the usual sense of the word. But that didn't seem to work at all. So I gave it a second listen, hoping to get a better idea, and sure enough, I soon realized that this album isn't simply 10 songs on a CD. This album is really one piece of music, with each track being a different "movement" within the work. Using that approach, I finally "got" this artist. What Ryan Powers Boyle has produced is really a musical epic poem about the emotional journey through life.
The album starts out with a "song" that was vaguely reminiscent of an E Street Band ballad, but somehow still different. The mix on the guitar made it sound like a toy guitar, and I wasn't crazy about that, but overall, "Yesterday" was a nice, mellow song, with lyrics about how the future becomes the past, how life just happens and nothing stays the same. "The Cell" followed with another poem about how life is fraught with competing forces and influences, and the hope that somehow perseverance will get us through the battle we call life.
Almost all of the songs really had no standard beginning and end, and some of them were kind of rambling and way too long. For instance, “I Can See” is only 2 seconds short of being 10 minutes long, and the lyrics really rambled on along with the music. I did like how the line “but now you’re with me again” changed from the minor key to the major key, totally in keeping with the sentiments being expressed. But basically, this is another song about love, not having it, wanting it, having it, etc. “Uncertain” is over 7 minutes long and another paean to the uncertainties of life’s path, and the difficulties of choosing the right one, but this time the lyrics totally resonated with me. It felt like he was writing about my own fears and hopes, and was very relevant.
“Through This Life” was another almost 10-minute song that combined some sad lyrics with beautiful accompanying music, but I had a hard time paying attention for that long. In the end, I had no idea what the lyrics really meant, but the general vibe of the song was very nice and rather Neil Young-like at times.
I could go on about each “song”, but it would be better to say that this album is almost a free association of both words and music. Mostly the themes are about how life is fleeting, and how we are all merely dust in the wind, “one shooting star of a million”, each of us looking for love. Honestly, I had a very difficult time understanding some of the lyrics, such as on “A Matter Of Miles”, that starts off telling a story about a pregnant woman about to give birth, and then goes off into some surreal land that is probably only understandable to Ryan Powers Boyle himself. To me this almost 11-minute song seemed like a bad mushroom trip that lasted way too long .
The last track, “Far And Away” was almost like Indian meditation music with lyrics, with the quality of the voice saying as much as the words themselves. It kind of put me in a yoga, feel-good kind of state, and it was a very good way to end the album.
Overall, I’d have to say that, even though this album isn’t really my cup of tea, it is a beautifully written and performed symphonic sojourn to that spot deep inside the soul that is common to every human. And Mr. Boyle’s voice perfectly conveys the feelings of uncertainty, of fleeting existence, and of the melancholy of knowing that life is so fleeting and short. Even the cover of “Chapel of Love” has a melancholy feel to it, making it almost a different song altogether from the original. I have deep respect for Ryan Powers Boyle who was the sole performer on this album, but I think I’d like this cd better if I were an angst-ridden teenager in whom those feelings are constantly bubbling on the surface of the psyche. But I’m not so old that these feelings are completely submerged, and this album was still very moving. Thank you, Ryan Powers Boyle for a beautiful musical journey to the depths of my being that made me feel connected to the rest of humanity.
Ryan Powers Boyle announces It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange
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Life, I Love You, you could call it. Cut from the same collaborative cloth of innovative films New Y...Life, I Love You, you could call it. Cut from the same collaborative cloth of innovative films New York, I Love You and Paris, je t’aime, it’s the human experience that’s highlighted in the ambitious new film and music project, It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange, announced today by Far and Away Records recording artist Ryan Powers Boyle.
Based on the music from Boyle’s upcoming self-titled album (due July 20, 2010 - Far and Away Records), It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange will feature a collection of short animated and live-action films by 10 filmmakers from around the world. Shown together, the films will tell the story of a man living through 10 chapters of life, or through 10 unique yet interrelated lives, depending on the viewer’s perspective.
“As far as I can tell, this kind of project has never been attempted before,” Boyle said. “Pink Floyd did The Wall, the Qatsi Trilogy blended film and music in a very abstract way, and plenty of bands have made videos of their songs, but to tell a single musical narrative through the eyes of 11 unique perspectives — 10 filmmakers plus myself — I’d like to think this is a first.”
Though spearheaded by Boyle, the Florida native is just 1/11th of a truly diverse group of collaborators on It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange. Contributing filmmakers include Qian Shi (China), Lilian Chan (Hong Kong), Panagiota Chaidogiannou (Greece), Will Donovan (Boston, MA), Wes Pratt (Tampa, FL), Jens Toivakainen (Finland), Emily Bailey (UK), Co Lab Studios (Savannah, GA, and China), Sidney Manuel (Lauderhill, FL), and Joseph Winchester (Austin, TX).
“The vastly different cultural perspectives at work here are really going to make this something special,” Boyle continued. “Coupled with the music — arguably a universal language — this project will be one of the most broadly realized projects I’ve ever been a part of.”
In addition to international release, It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange will be shown as part of Boyle’s live concerts in a US tour slated to begin this summer.
It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange will be released September 2010. For more information, visit www.ryanpowersboyle.com/film.
CD Review: Ryan Powers Boyle- S/T
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Singer-songwriter Ryan Powers Boyle is celebrating the release of his new self-titled album on Far A...Singer-songwriter Ryan Powers Boyle is celebrating the release of his new self-titled album on Far And Away Records. On the new release, you’ll find topics such as faith, love and observing the world around you. Some of the tracks on the album like “Yesterday,” “A Girl and A World” and “Far And Away” feature an alternative-rock feel, while songs like “It’s All Beautiful, It’s All So Strange” and “The Cell” have more of a folk-rock feel.
When it comes to writing lyrics to songs, most of the time it seems like the composer of those lyrics just throws words together to form sentences; the words don’t really have anything in common with each other except for the fact that they form a rhyme. Very rarely will you find a composer in today’s musical world who takes the time to create a story within the lyrics of a song. But with singer-songwriter Ryan Powers Boyle, his songs feel like poetry set to music; each song he writes seems to tell a tale. It is his poetry-to-music approach that has found its way onto his new self-titled release. Two examples of this are his songs “A Girl and A World” and “A Matter of Miles”.
On “A Girl and A World,” Ryan Powers Boyle tells a story of when he met a lady when he was on a cruise. You can almost see the situation unfolding as you listen to the narrator sing.
And on “A Matter of Miles,” you hear of a woman who is the beginning stages of labor. She meets up with a driver who has to take matters into his own hands in order to help the woman deliver the child. Although the rest of the release is not religious in nature, the words for “A Matter of Miles” read like something out of The Bible.
While no one is physically mentioned as musicians in the packaging for the album, the musicianship is very good. The combination of the playing abilities on the album along with Ryan Powers Boyle’s singing and songwriting all work well together to create the ten songs included on the artist’s self-titled release.
The ten tracks that make up the album combine to create a running time of over an hour of music. While about half of the songs are of radio-friendly length, the remaining songs well exceed the five-minute mark. In fact, “A Matter of Time,” “Through This Life,” and “I Can See” all approach or surpass the ten-minute mark. The release seems to be set up in such a matter that the first half features songs that are of average length, and the second half features the tracks that are much longer.
Staying in step with the trends in the last decade from the recording industry, the self-titled release from Ryan Powers Boyle happens to include a cover song in its tracking: on the album, the musician includes a creative interpretation of “Chapel of Love,” a song originally made famous by The Dixie Cups. The arrangement of the song fits well with the rest of the tracks on the album.
All of the elements on Ryan Powers Boyle’s new release come together perfectly to create an album that is highly entertaining and fun to listen to. The musician is currently celebrating the release of his self-titled album. Other big things should be coming from Ryan Powers Boyle, so stayed tuned.
Ryan Powers Boyle Announces Short Film Project
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Ryan Powers Boyle will release a new, s/t album through Far and Away Records in July. In a somewhat ...Ryan Powers Boyle will release a new, s/t album through Far and Away Records in July. In a somewhat unique move, the singer has enlisted the help of several live-action and animated short filmmakers to produce clips inspired by the music on the album. They will be compiled and released internationally as a feature this September entitled It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange.
Contributing filmmakers include Qian Shi (China), Lilian Chan (Hong Kong), Panagiota Chaidogiannou (Greece), Will Donovan (Boston, MA), Wes Pratt (St. Petersburg, FL), Jens Toivakainen (Finland), Emily Bailey (UK), Yilu Zhang with Co-Lab Studio (China and Savannah, GA), Sidney Manuel (Lauderhill, FL), and Joseph Winchester (Austin, TX).
In addition to the international screenings, Powers Boyle will be showing the film as part of his summer tour of the US. Dates are available here.
New Music Spotlight August 2010 Edition -- Ryan Powers Boyle
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Indie Artist Ryan Powers Boyle makes beautiful music that one can easily fall in love with especiall...Indie Artist Ryan Powers Boyle makes beautiful music that one can easily fall in love with especially his excellent songwriting skills and amazing vocals. Our Webzine was particular thrilled to interview Ryan Powers Boyle in this week’s music spotlight so that our readers can discover the magic of Ryan Powers Boyle as we have already. Here is the online conversation we had with the Singer/Songwriter as he reveals many wonderful things about his music. Enjoy!
Isaac: Let’s get started with this interview. I wanted to thank you for this second interview with our Webzine. How has 2010 been for you so far?
Ryan: Thanks Isaac, it’s great to talk to you. 2010 has been an amazing year so far -- I finished recording my first full-length album, self-titled Ryan Powers Boyle (released on 7/20), and I produced a completely unique film project to accompany it, It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange. We found 10 amazing filmmakers and animators who made 10 short films based on songs from the album. Rather than being 10 narratively unrelated films, they’re linked, essentially 10 chapters of a single film. The whole thing will debut this September, and we’ll be on tour with it for the next year at least.
Isaac: Out of all of your influences, who would you enjoy working with and why?
Ryan: Who wouldn’t want to sit down and write a song with Bob Dylan, or even just play a show with him? What a great day -- step into the ring with Bob (I hear he boxes daily), then play a set with him. Get my ass kicked physically and musically in the same night.
Isaac: What can you say has been the biggest accomplishment so far with your music career?
Ryan: Accomplishments are relative in this business. I’m sure it would feel great to win a Grammy, but I can’t say there’s any higher honor than a random fan pulling you aside and telling you how much your music means to them, and how a particular song spoke to them like it was written just for them and what’s going on in their life. To really connect with someone through music is the big trophy, I think.
Isaac: Are you happy with where you are at with your music career at the moment?
Ryan: I’m happy, definitely, but I won’t be satisfied until every person out there who might appreciate what I’m doing has been exposed to it and given the chance to interact with it. And I do mean interact -- good music is like its own living, breathing organism, and when you stumble across music that resonates with you and your life, it’s not a passive thing. There’s a definite back and forth going on when you’re in that moment of hearing something great for the first time. It’s like meeting a new love.
Isaac: What draws you to want to play the type of music that you do?
Ryan: I think of my music as a sort of exploration of life. Regardless of the actual style of music I might cloak a particular song in (though it does tend to largely come across as an indie folk rock-type of thing), its purpose is always to try and dig to a little deeper understanding of its subject matter. So while I’m not drawn to any particular genre (hell, I might do a Tibetan Throat Singer song someday if it feels right), I’m drawn to my subject matter simply because I’m alive and I want to expand my understanding and contact with life. Every new song is a realization.
Isaac: What do you feel it takes to play this type of music that you play?
Ryan: Unquenchable curiosity and an open mind. And lots of caffeine.
Isaac: How do you handle people in the music industry who promise you things but do not deliver?
Ryan: Man, everyone’s got a story don’t they? When I first went out on my own as a solo act, I put a couple demos on MySpace and almost right away had a guy from Atlantic Records offering me a deal. But six months later he’s telling me the music business has changed too much and the offer was gone. After that, I don’t believe anything until I see it.
Isaac: If you had the opportunity to do one cover, what cover would you do and why? How would you put your own spin on this cover?
Ryan: I actually try to do a cover on each album. On Ryan Powers Boyle (that just came out), I did a cover of the Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love.” I did it as a sort of self-reflective folk song and changed the lyrics to make the narrator uncertain about his getting married. Nothing autobiographical, but I liked flipping the song on its head.
Isaac: What does it take to be a good songwriter?
Ryan: Still figuring that one out. Right now I’m learning there’s a balance between not holding on to the song too tightly and imposing your will on it -- that’ll almost certainly squeeze the life out of it -- and letting the song go where it wants to go and capturing that spontaneity. It’s a tightrope line.
Isaac: How difficult is it to juggle music, family and work obligation, and life in general? Explain.
Ryan: There are only so many hours in the day, and a person only has so much energy and attention to go around. Eventually you have to figure out what your priorities are -- decide what you’re willing to sacrifice for music -- and then constantly fine tune to keep everything in balance. Luckily my significant other comes with me on tour, so I don’t have to worry that she might not be there when I get back. Same with my dog, Chloe. She’s the tour mascot.
Isaac: What is your definition of being an Indie artist/band?
Ryan: To me, the Indie ideal doesn’t lie in a particular sound or whether you’re signed to a certain type of label, it’s a freedom to take your music down whatever road you want to go with it. It’s not necessarily a lifestyle or a business decision -- though it can certainly be that -- but a statement of creative freedom and an unwillingness to sacrifice artistic vision for lesser things.
Isaac: Where can fans access your music online?
Ryan: My website’s a good place to start -- www.ryanpowersboyle.com, and MySpace works too -- www.myspace.com/ryanpowersboyle. Plus, you can buy the album on my site or iTunes.
Isaac: 2011 will be…….
Ryan:... the year of the It’s All So Beautiful, It’s All So Strange tour. It’s one of those things where if you do it well enough you’re rewarded with more work. If the North American leg goes good, then it’s on to Europe, then who knows? I’ll also be recording a new album in the downtime (if I get any), so 2011 will be a very, very busy year for me. Just the way I like it. : ]
A Ryan Powers Boyle show is a multimedia production featuring a 10-song set and a 1.25-hour film.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.