Bill Ryder-Jones - Yawn
The creative catalogue of Bill Ryder-Jones dates back to when he was just 13 years old in 1996, when he co-founded The Coral and played as lead guitarist for much of the band’s big league success.
Since then Ryder-Jones has explored and grown, working as a collaborator for the likes of Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets, composing film scores, producing a slew of bands such as Hooton Tennis Club, Our Girl, Brooke Bentham, Hannah’s Little Sister, Kidsmoke and The Orielles, and creating his own expanding body of work as a solo artist.
There’s also been time to build his own Yawn studios where he lives in West Kirby, Merseyside, where he recorded and produced his fourth album, also called Yawn, which clocks in at almost an hour and rewards the discerning listener.
His debut LP, If…, is a sublime orchestral record conceived as a soundtrack to the Italo Calvino novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart was recorded at his mum’s house with basic gear and set out his stall as an artist willing to wear his heart on his sleeve, writing poetically about his childhood and dealing with memories and the loss of his elder brother when he was very young. Ryder-Jones' third, West Kirby County Primary, covers deeply personal subjects such as loss of loved ones and mental health struggles as well, but also introduced some levity and raised the tempo with rousing guitar and thunderous drums on singles such as 'Two to Birkenhead' and the soaring 'Satellites'.
Yawn sees his journey through to the present – the songwriting is focused on where he has arrived at 35. The melodies seduce and the lyrics are by turn darkly funny, inclusive, touching, and often they have the charming touch of an eavesdropped conversation.
On 'Time Will Be the Only Saviour' he picks at the emotional scabs left when relationships unravel. A warm undercurrent of cello is countervailed by the grumbling restraint of distorted guitar, while the singer-songwriter asks a lost lover about their story with memorable lines like, “I remember what we did and when/and the smell of your breath/and even all the names of your dickhead friends/what do you remember?”
'Recover' is a delicate, confessional gem marked by Ryder-Jones' whispery delivery, deftly finger-picked acoustic guitar and the cello, again adding emotional heft. The key line is: "As honest as a promise to recover". and Ryder-Jones explains, “Anyone who knows anything about that, if you’ve had problems with drugs or drink, you make that promise fucking countless times, but it only actually means anything once.”
The three singles 'Mither', 'And Then There’s You' and 'Don’t be Scared, I Love You' are the clear choices for radio play with their hooks and swirling walls of guitars. There are few choruses here and no floor-fillers, Ryder-Jones has experimented, imposed limitations, searched and ultimately put his heart and a good dose of life’s ache into the album.
After just a few listens what comes lucidly through is that this new collection of slow-burning songs was not just bashed out, but rather meticulously hewn from honest and everyday life experiences. It’s earnest without being cloying. It’s the statement of a man unafraid to be vulnerable and to turn elements of his life into art.
Ryder-Jones himself marks it out to fans as not an album to enjoy, but most of them will surely disagree. It’s an enormously enjoyable listen that bears back-to back-playing, before going out or otherwise. As another emotionally nuanced and seductive set of songs that will stand the test of time, it further cements his position as one of the country’s finest artists.