“New Old Stock” EP: Pat Ryan Key

This will be my fourth EP review and I couldn’t be more happier! I appreciate Pat Ryan Key for allowing me the opportunity to talk about their EP titled New Old Stock. Per usual with any of my music reviews, I will be reviewing each song one at a time. This commentary is based on how the music made me feel, think, the vibes the song gave off, and some technical music critiques. Please be aware that I am throwing out flavors and pop culture references that the audience might point out or mention while listening to each of these songs. I appreciate the variety of music flavor profiles this EP presents overall and how it keeps the listener engaged. If you haven’t heard of this artist, then go experience the music they have to offer.

Pat Ryan Key's EP:
1.) How About It? 2.) Messed Up
3.) Tempted 4.) Focus
1.) How About It?
Immediately it pulls the listener in with the pure essence of funk interlaced with elements of soul and blues. At first glance, the beginning emits classic R&B slow jam techniques while introducing the audience to the strong musical rhythms presented in the song itself.  The artist's style of singing ebbs and flows within a type vindictive of the blues: raspy, but strained forcefulness. Even though my only real knowledge of the musical genre "funk" is Henry Invisible and subsequently Bootsy Collins, in my opinion the piano and organ riffs accompanied by a strong bass line definitely puts this song in the same category. I enjoyed this feel good party tune as the opener to their EP along with the bold opening line, "True love comes from above." The musical pattern call and response is implemented as the singer calls during the chorus saying, "How'd you know I like to get down with it?" and female vocals respond, "How about we start right now?"  There are even moments when I hear vocal stylings similar to a rougher sounding Bruno Mars mixed with the upbeat rhythm of "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake. Though some of the vocals may appear strained or reaching, these types of techniques are stereotypical when performing the blues. The rugged sound of the artist's voice highlights their ability to entertain and makes the song sound so much more real and passionate overall.

2.) Messed Up
This song highlights the artist's vocals the best in my opinion. They give you a heartfelt, but heartbreaking story that almost persuades you to empathize with the teller of the tale. I am a sucker for a straightforward and simple song like this due to how it can capture a multitude of audiences. At its core this track screams blues, but it goes at a slower pace and takes on the call and response style such as "Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters. Incorporating percussion and keys was a good creative choice. Strategically it gives the listener something to look forward to while keeping the song moving. Each time the singer repeats the phrase, "I messed up." it's as if they are adding a new musical element to how the lyric itself sounds. The back up vocals mimic a gospel tone and contrast the lead vocals in a striking manner to overemphasize the lyrics. I imagine this song could be interpreted as a first-person testimony of multiple personal confessions. The straight forward theme of this track is what makes it so raw, real and relatable on so many levels. Though the music video is whimsical and simply made, I encourage you to go watch it and see how it makes you feel.

3.) Tempted
This song envelopes you with raspy, dark tones and it delves into a whole different theme that you're not ready for. The beginning to this song sounds similar to the theme song to the television show Turn called "Hush" and also has rhythmic elements from "God's Gonna Cut You Down" by Johnny Cash. Genres such as soul, southern rock and "chain gang" blues heavily influenced the execution of this song.  The artist's vocals resemble The Allman Brothers Band while emulating the style of the "chain gang" tune "I Be So Glad... When The Sun Goes Down" by Ed Lewis. Characteristics of the blues are incorporated as much as possible to emphasize the melancholy realism in the lyrics. This is by far my favorite track on the EP. I enjoy the rhythm as it keeps me looking forward to what I will hear next. My only criticism is that the back up vocals are almost inaudible when listening, but resembles faint whispers. When looking deeper into the meaning of the lyrics, I discovered that the phrase, "I could be the one you need that you can lean on." implies a secret narrative within the track. The hidden story is about an emotional person's encounter with a deviant who tries to tempt them into believing their "good intentions". The repetition of this line hints at an underlying bargain between the two characters, but we only get to imagine how it all ended. This insight might be a stretch and I could be completely wrong, but I dare you to listen to this song and see for yourself.

4.) Focus
I appreciate how the artist literally pushed his vocal range so high in this track. I do admire the dedication to reach those notes, but it's almost on the brink of straining. Overall, I love it! The core essence of this song is reminiscent of "Proud Mary" by CCR played at a slower tempo. Along with their rough and raspy vocals, the artist infuses a funky rhythm accompanied by back up vocals styled after a southern gospel version of The Supremes. The lyrics in this song sound like they came straight off a motivational poster or mural that anyone could find on the street. The ones that jump out are "If the sun doesn't shine, tomorrow I'll be fine." & "Live it up, 'cause second chances." It makes me happy just listening to it and gives listeners an optimistic view on how to live life. Elements of pop rock are evident through the instruments and the rhythm at times reminds me of "1973" by James Blunt. If you don't have the lyrics stuck in your head by the time you are done listening, well then give it time. I can't help but enjoy the upbeat rhythm and genuine scoop riffing from the lead vocals of this tune. Embody the track title and focus on the deeper message in the music. 

Have you heard of Pat Ryan Key?

Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter & visit their official website patryankey.com

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