Ryan Neilson - Four Walls
Despite the slick, denim-jeans ad feel to many of these songs, Ryan Neilson does manage to charm his way out of a few jams on this, his debut. "Four Walls" also suffers from some lazy songwriting, as formulaic lyrics abound and insight rarely rises above the "I have to be myself" or "It is always darkest before the dawn" sentiment. Those problems are most evident in "Back to Life," "Dear Stephanie" and "All Fall Down," tepid moments all.
But songs like "Hello Houston" and "Slow," while covering the same (surface) ground of romance show sparks of genuine passion. Interesting chord changes in the melodies, at least here, rise above the glossy, commercial production. "Color Blind" is another tune that wins you over with its heart.
Neilson is not a bad guitarist either, and some of his lines would shimmer even without the safe production. No new territory is uncovered, or explored, on "Four Walls" yet Ryan Neilson' positive energy and musical chops manage to break through in an otherwise uninspiring set. Not sure if it's maturity or less of the cookie cutter approach to getting on the radio that is needed here, but Neilson does show he can be more if he wants to be.
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