Bill Ryder-Jones: Yawn review – Channelling treasured memories into song
It’s been a decade since Bill Ryder-Jones abandoned the sloppy jangle pop tunes of Merseyside band The Coral to take a sharp turn towards orchestral scores (2011’s If…) and sad-boy bedroom tunes (A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart, from 2013).
On his fifth solo record, Yawn, the composer tinkers with a sound that really works for him, comfortably fusing the whispering acoustic style he’s often leaned towards (Jose Gonzales’s lawyers might want to look closely at stripped-bare song Recover) with the heavy textures of post-rock.
The front cover of the album features a snap of Ryder-Jones as a young boy and the album takes an equally personal tone, highlighting Jones’s improving skills as a songwriter. Take the chugging guitars of mid-paced number Mither, a sensitive ode to his mother. Equally personal is the song John, as an earnest Ryder-Jones muses on a presence that’s missing in his life.
It’s the work of a man who feels the need to channel his treasured memories into his work, while the low-hanging electric guitars and dense strings haunt these tracks, sounding like a the darkest crevices of Ryder-Jones’s mind.
His performance can still be a bit flat and featurless to keep listeners regularly coming back to Yawn, but the Englishman’s songwriting and arrangements are more fascinating than before.