Ryan Melia is a singer/songwriter based from New York and co-founding member of PigPen Theatre Co. Years Ahead is Melia's debut record, an eight-track contemporary folk album, drawing influences from Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and various other 2000's folk artists. Melia played every instrument on Years Ahead (including guitar, violin, percussion, synth, flute, banjo and piano), highlighting his undoubtedly talented musicianship and the care, dedication and attention he puts into his work is evident throughout the album.
The record kicks off with "First Shade,” a short oriental-inspired track that gives you an insight into the intimate and emotive music of Ryan Melia.
This is followed by "Me, I" which has a poetically smooth quality and sees Melia perform in a David Grayesque, earthy and delicate nature, which align perfectly with the impassioned lyrics and stunning sonic tapestry that Melia's flute work paints, similar to Nick Drake’s "Pink Moon" in sharing a melancholic vulnerability and elemental ethos.
Ryan Melia's extraordinary musicianship is distinctly evident throughout the album with his astounding banjo and piano work on "Easy Answer" empowering the song to have exciting layers and depth at every corner.
On “Pyre," Melia exhibits his versatility, opting for a more haunting, layered vocal performance, along with the atmospheric production, giving this track an ambient feel and a strikingly eerie quality akin to early Bon Iver, which concludes with the acoustic of just vocals and banjo, that make you feel like you are in the room with Melia performing.
The album concludes with “Aran" — a powerful ending, with Melia's beautiful violin, a true highlight, and the powerful repetitive lyrics "If we have to go now/ We will find a way" as it finishes with the sounds of birds singing that calmingly wash over you.
Years Ahead is a stunningly heartfelt, warm and intimate album with impressive nature-inspired, textured and ambient production. But the thing that stands out more than the album itself is Melia's stunning gift in his songwriting, instrumentation, arrangements and warm, calming vocals. As he develops his sound with time and experience, he will become a generational force to be reckoned with, and I will follow this exceptional talent future endeavors closely.
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