Title - 'Telescope'
Artist - Kelley Ryan
For those not in the know, for more than 20 years, the effervescent singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and inveterate studio rat Kelley Ryan has been making distinctive, infectious and wholly original music.
Initially recording under the moniker of astroPuppees and subsequently working under her own name, Ryan has released eight highly accomplished albums that combine sterling melodic song craft with sharp, grown-up lyrical insight.
On her brand new release Telescope, an album that reflects the world through Ryan's eyes (hence the album cover art), we begin with the stoic death ballad 'The Darkest Stars" ('I'd be better off if I were dead"), the lone jazz trumpet scoring elevating the track to something more than just a sombre incantation. That's then backed by both the more upbeat, yet decidedly still below mid-tempo 'Cigarette' and then the emotional revenue within 'Save Me.'
'Flake White Heart' is a lovely song, once again with lyrics that could mean more than what one first assumes ("Lay me like a rag doll, on the ground. Golden boy of ecstasy, burn me down"), and that's followed by a chance for Ryan to elevate her vocal range beautifully on 'Secret Life.' A more delicate feel to it, fragile even, the beautiful ballad 'The Broken News' is next and is, for my money, one of the best tracks on this album.
The upbeat 'Pulling For Romeo' is next, and along with the last track, is one of the most vibrant, mid-tempo tracks on the album, and that is followed by the finger-snappin' vibe of 'Passing Through' (co-written with Marshall Crenshaw). This melodically, yet still decidedly eclectic album then comes to a close with the gentle guitar ballad 'Crack In The Sky' before rounding out with the pleasing 'Real Gone Girl.'
As for why she named the album Telescope Ryan herself states: “The dictionary describes a telescope as ‘an optical instrument designed to make distant objects appear nearer, containing an arrangement of lenses or curved mirrors, by which rays of light are collected and focused and the resulting image magnified.’ I think that’s a pretty good metaphor for writing songs. Also, I just like the way the word sounds.”
'Telescope' CD Purchase Link