Our theme for the month of March is “Part Two.” Writers were challenged to choose a piece they’ve previously contributed to the post calvin and revisit it, perhaps writing a sequel or reflecting on how things have changed.
Tony’s original post is “Liner Notes with Tony, Part I: Sometimes People Do Non-Musical Things During Their Music.”
I have exactly one Google Alert set up: “Ryn Weaver.” In the last few months I’ve received eleven notifications for this Google Alert, nine of which were for Rayonier Inc. (whose stock ticker symbol is “RYN”) which is evidently partially held by Weaver C. Barksdale & Associates, Inc.—ergo “RYN Weaver.” The remaining two notifications served their intended purpose: to keep me abreast of any online chatter about the American singer-songwriter Ryn Weaver.
I set up the Google Alert so that I would immediately find out if/when she goes on tour. I very much want to see her perform live, but unfortunately my (healthy) obsession with her music did not begin until after she was in town for Lollapalooza 2015. As such, I’m writing this with the hopes of generating enough buzz that she can’t help but go on tour again.
For context, Ryn Weaver is twenty-five and she’s released one album. It’s called “The Fool,” and it’s very good. The most well known song from the album is called “OctaHate,” which caused a mild online stir in 2014 for its brilliance as a debut single. A few critics have argued that the rest of the album doesn’t hold up in comparison, but they’re dumb and wrong.
For genre, it’s indie pop. One of the articles brought to my attention by the Google Alert lists her as “Off the Wall and Out of This World,” which is erroneous on both counts. The album certainly isn’t banal, but it’s hardly unconventional enough to be called “off the wall.” It was produced and co-written by Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit fame and Benny Blanco who writes and produces for notable “on the wall” artists such as Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and Maroon 5. It doesn’t so much defy genre as completely conquer it. And as far as “out of this world” goes, I think that sells her short. The appeal of this album—to me at least—is its groundedness. It is very much in this particular world, and that is its charm.
You should listen to it now, and then come back to read the rest of this if you feel like it. “The Fool” is best appreciated in its entirety to fully take in the story and the emotional progression and to pick out the parallels and themes. Soak it all in.
- Runaway – This song is very good. I learned the word “acerbic” in the process of studying for the GRE, and the only time I’ve ever wanted to use it is to describe Ryn Weaver’s voice when she says “it is not becoming.”
- OctaHate – This song is very good. It deserved what hype it got and more.
- Pierre – This song is very good. I get very wrapped up in the world of the music I’m listening to. Halfway through a Creedence Clearwater Revival song, I’ll feel like I really know deep down what it’s like to be a poor boy from Louisiana in the mid-twentieth century. Halfway through this song I feel like I really know deep down what it’s like to be a lovestruck twenty-two-year-old woman from California in the early twenty-first century.
- Stay Low – This song is very good. Back to back with the next song, it’s a very good demonstration of the emotional timbre of Ryn Weaver’s voice and the range of emotions that she can evoke.
- Sail On – This song is very good. I think the defining feature of the lyrics in this album is a simple evocative push beyond standard pop fare, embodied in this song by the line “sail on ‘til you’re gone and then some.”
- The Fool – This song is very good. The turning point of the album. Buckle up, it’s gonna get really uplifting from here on out.
- Promises – This song is very good. Every time I go through a yellow light I sing “Keep punchin’ pedals at the amber lights” to myself.
- Free – This song is very good. It’s probably my least favorite song on the album, and it’s still very good.
- Traveling Song – This song is very good. The music video for this song is a bunch of home video clips of Ryn Weaver as a child and growing up. It’s an emotional trip.
- Here Is Home – This song is very good. I think it would make a good lullaby.
- New Constellations – This song is very good. The perfect finale, the perfect bookend. She was running away from the past in the beginning, but now she’s running toward the future—it’s not a new theme, but it’s a theme well done. If you ever hear me screaming “What if there’s more? What if there’s more?” I’m just singing along.
Tony graduated in 2012 with majors in mathematics and economics. He now lives in Chicago and is pursuing graduate study in economics. He also has a very good cultural trivia podcast called “Here’s My Number, So Call Me Ishmael” available on Libsyn, iTunes, and Google Play.