06 February 2018 (released)
29 March 2018
When one is surrounded by grandiose beauty, they tend to write with a sense of grandeur. Making music in Manhattan, people take inspiration from the larger than life skyscrapers to create grand, ornate pieces like the showstopping numbers of Broadway musicals. For those blessed to be surrounded by the behemoths of the Rocky Mountains on Canada's west coast, a similar expansiveness can be found in their songwriting. The debut record from Vancouver, British Columbia's Ben Ryan is a collection of emotionally open, piano-based pop. The songwriting teems with a dramatic flair. Some songs bounce with an excited jaunt in their step while others push and pull with a well of emotions as if they were swaying at the mercy of a full symphony. The record, however, was recorded with just two people with Ryan handling piano, bass, guitar and vocal duties merely enlisting Brandon Christy to handle the drums.
The opener 'Peru' is a wistful reflection on travels and finding yourself in different phases of your life. Ryan accompanies his pristine vocal with a delicate piano line. The track builds to a grand 123,123,12 chorus that Coldplay has made a career off of for years. The bridge focuses in on a swelling of vocals that coalesce like mountain streams joining a mighty river. A perfectly crafted pop song. The following 'Never Go' rolls with a little more pep-in-the-step in the verses but has a similar throwdown quality to the chorus, an infectiously dark minor line that details young lovers passion and absolutism. The harmonica-led 'Gold' injects even more spring in the step with a stompin' Americana indie vibe.
Abacus is an album of remarkably infectious piano-pop. Ryan isn't reinventing the wheel here but he has figured out how to craft some great hooks surrounded by silky smooth melodies. Adult contemporary crowd beware, this young talent has more than a few numbers on this record that will live in your head for a long time.