Riley Jantzen
Gig Seeker Pro

Riley Jantzen

Band Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"A focused, rich indie-folk LP from Mayola’s former front man."

I once knew Riley Jantzen as that harsh-voiced dude from that band with the even-harsher guitar tones, Mayola. Even when he wasn’t grunting or guttural, he sounded like a mean ol’ son of a rock ’n’ roll gun.
Anybody who knows Jantzen knows that couldn’t be further from the reality, and “Feathers,” his first effort as Riley Jantzen and the Spirits, should dispel his scary-guy image for those who don’t. It’s a wonderfully intimate album lyrically, and musically enriched by his absurd skill as a player.

He’s credited as playing all the instruments, and his handling of the standards (piano, electric and acoustic guitar, and synthesizer) both invites you in close and dazzles with his dexterity. Subtle changes in volume of his guitar help to imagine him rocking back and forth inside some little shack of a studio somewhere that suddenly doesn’t seem so far away.

He’s really set himself apart as a singular figure in the Oklahoma music scene, capable of playing backup for anybody, as well as writing his own high-caliber material. This ability, coupled with his rough-hewn domestic songwriting themes (and even his voice at times) suggests Conor Oberst, once of Bright Eyes fame. Like Oberst, Jantzen’s definitely got the credibility and songwriting chops to mount a successful solo project. And he does.

“Sunday Morning” is the centerpiece here, a tough, hopeful, five-minute hand-washing of his conflict with religion. “My family’s got religion / But I’ve got silence and a pen,” he says, completely un-guilty of how he spends his time while others go to church. It sounds like his life has slowed down considerably (“The rush destroys everything / And everyone’s always rushin’ around”), and for the better. You’d better be holding on to something when the song spikes in the middle and then stomps its way to an emotional finish. It’s a scary-good ride.

Jantzen also tackles populist themes when he stretches into folk. “Work Week” is a Woody Guthrie nod with simple, pointed criticisms like, “Sad old money machine runs very inefficiently” and truisms: “Don’t let the past make your decisions / Tradition don’t make it right.” It’s a poignant, careful update on one of the oldest, truest forms of music.
“Feathers” mostly hangs out in Jantzen’s traditional alt-country/folk zone, although tuned a little softer by the presence of hovering, gentle synthesizers. It’s a gem of a locally made record, the kind of music that really ought to show up in Oklahoma more often, but sadly doesn’t.  

Matt Carney, December 1st, 2011
- Oklahoma Gazette

"Review of Norman Music Fest 2011"

My second dose of Riley Jantzen came at the Brewhouse, with him fronting his new band, Riley Jantzen and the Spirits. They play what I call train-whistle rock'n'roll: twangless country rock that crunches pretty hard, but not in the modern rock sort of way. Whatever you want to call it, Riley Jantzen and the Spirits are incredibly good at it. I got shivers twice during their set, and it's rare for me to feel goosebumps once during a good show. It helps that Jantzen's voice molds perfectly into whatever genre he wishes, and that his songwriting sensibilities are razor-sharp. His supporting cast is also a critical element; the bassist get props for being especially vital. I can't recommend this band highly enough to you; if you take nothing from NMF but Riley Jantzen, you're gonna be doing alright.

-Stephen Carradini -


Feathers (2011)
Country N' Western (2010)
Ivory and Hide (2006)



Riley Jantzen is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the town of Enid Oklahoma. Over the past ten years he has become a staple in the Oklahoma music scene and is known for his prolific and quality songwriting and inspired live performance.