Courtesy: Wicked Cool Records
Indie rock act Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts returns Friday with its sophomore album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere. The 11-song record is an enjoyable follow-up to the group’s 2019 album This is the Sound, which itself won the 2019 Best Indie Album Award at the annual Independent Music Awards. That is proven throughout the record’s 39-minute run thanks to its musical arrangements and lyrical themes. The album has already produced two singles, which support the noted statements in their own way. They are just two of the album’s most notable works. ‘Can I Get An Amen’ is another way in which the record shows its strength. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ which closes out the album is another way in which the record proves its appeal. It will be addressed a little later. ‘Out Of My League’ is one more example of what makes this record so enjoyable. It will also be discussed later. When it is considered along with the other two songs noted here and the album’s other entries, the whole of that collection makes the album overall a positive new offering that will appeal to indie and neo-folk fans alike.
Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts’ new album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is a presentation whose appeal will appeal is certain to appeal to reach audiences everywhere. Yes, that terrible pun was intended. Its appeal stems from its musical and lyrical content together. That has already been proven through the album’s current singles, ‘Oh No’ and ‘Jesus and John Lennon.’ They are but two of the album’s most notable works, though. The album shows in many other ways why it is well worth hearing. Not the least of those ways is the song ‘Can I Get An Amen.’ The song’s musical arrangement is the foundation for its appeal. The arrangement is a bluesy composition that is grounded in Hamilton’s easygoing vocal delivery style and performance on guitar. The addition of his fellow musicians’ performances enriches the arrangement even more. The result is a work that will appeal to fans of The Rolling Stones on one hand. On another hand, one could also make comparisons to works from so many other younger bands. The good thing is that despite such a wide range of available comparisons, the arrangement still boasts its own identity that is sure to become a favorite among fans when and if live music is allowed to return. The relaxed mood featured in the song’s musical arrangement couples well with the song’s lyrical content, which presents an equally laid back message of self-confidence. That message is delivered through a declaration from the song’s subject about having no regrets about who he is.
That statement opens with the subject singing in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t need to be forgiven/God know, I can’t be saved/I am who I’ve become/Because of those mistakes I’ve made/I might fall a little further/And I might stray a bit too far/Sometimes I need my medicine/When did this get so hard/But round and round we go/Where it stops nobody knows/Can you feel that spirit moving through ya/Can I get an Amen/I’m on the highway to hell/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah/Can I get an Amen/get me off this carousel/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “I promise I’ll stop drinking/I make that promise every day/And I still got that buzz/When I get on my knees to pray…I lie I cheat I drink I steal/Maybe God made a mistake when he gave us fools free will/Roudn and round we go/Where it stops nobody knows/Can you feel that spirit movin’ through ya/Can I get an Amen/I’m on the highway to hell/Can I get an Amen/Hallelujah.” This is someone who knows the path the has forged for himself, but he is comfortable with the choices he has made in life. It is a message that hopefully will resonate with listeners. It’s a sort of message that reminds audiences that they should not have regrets about their past, but rather just take that experience and learn from it and move forward. Between that and the song’s musical arrangement, the song in whole proves itself just as strong as the album’s current singles and the rest of the album’s works. It is just one more of the ways in which the album exhibits its strength, too. ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ the album’s closer is another notable addition to the album.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Pick Yourself Up’ is the polar opposite of that featured in ‘Can I Get An Amen.’ This song’s arrangement is a beautiful, gentle, piano-driven work that will appeal to fans of Reckless Kelly. That comparison is made because of the combination of the piano line alongside the slide guitar, bass and drums. One could even make a comparison to works from Drive By Truckers in listening closely to this arrangement. The general effect of the arrangement is a deeply-felt emotional impact that will stick with listeners well after the song (and album) ends. The emotion that the song’s arrangement will elicit is a wonderful companion to the song’s equally moving lyrical theme. The theme in question is that of personal empowerment and again, elf confidence, just in a different way than featured in ‘Can I Get An Amen.’
In the case of ‘Pick Yourself Up’ Hamilton sings, “Is the outcome worth the cost/The straight and narrow/Still got you lost/Is the juice worth the squeeze/you hoped for a throne/And wound up on your knees/This will not be where the story ends/Pick yourself back up and start over again.” He continues in the song’s second verse, “Will the sadness break your will/Selfish intentions and troubles with guilt/Don’t give up/Don’t back down/And one of these days/You’ll be the talk of the town.” This positive message is welcome just as much now as at any time in the world’s history. It is a message that, when coupled with the warm, welcoming sound in the song’s arrangement, makes the song in whole that much clearer an example of what makes Nowhere To Go But Everywhere such a welcome new offering from Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts. It still is not the last of the album’s most notable works, either. ‘Out of My League’ is another notable addition to the album.
‘Out of My League’ is a fun, modern bluesy country composition that would fit just as well in any honky-tonk of days gone by as any of today’s country music radio station. That is evidenced in the hybrid twang-pop sound in the guitar line. Its light, almost celebratory style and sound is infectious and is sure to get stuck in listeners’ heads in its own right. That light, celebratory nature would seem to work well with the song’s lyrical theme, too.
The song’s lyrical theme comes across as, in fact, a man who is in complete awe that he has managed to end up with this woman who clearly is…well…out of his league. He even goes so far as to sing (almost sarcastically) in the song’s final line, “Much to my surprise/I got a trophy wife!” if that doesn’t leave listeners laughing, then nothing will. The song opens with its subject singing, “The girl’s got tricks/She’s always on my mine/yeah, she’s so sick/but you should know that I don’t mind/She’s the prettiest thing I think I ever seen/It’s like she walked right off the cover of a magazine/Which begs the question, “What’s she doing with me.”” He continues in the song’s second verse, “She’s so smooth/And I know better/All my friends are saying she’s just looking to settle/But guess what?/I’m gonna let her.” He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “I was always hoping that the right one would find me/This funny situation sort of snuck up behind me/Much to my surprise/I got a trophy wife.” That brings all of this full circle. What man has not felt like the song’s subject. This is that early “honeymoon” stage of a relationship. The guy is head over heels for the woman and would do anything, etc. It’s a song that will definitely resonate with the noted listeners and become very useful on date nights for dancing. Heck, if a relationship is still going strong years later during married life, it will resonate just as much. To that end, it makes the song stand out that much stronger. It is just one more way in which the album shows its strength. When this song is considered along with the likes of ‘Pick Yourself Up,’ ‘Can I Get An Amen’ and the rest of the record’s songs, the whole becomes another uplifting, enjoyable work from this independent musical collective.
Ryan Hamilton & the Harlequin Ghosts’ new album Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is a successful new offering from the independent music collective. That is due equally to its musical and lyrical content. The record’s musical arrangements will appeal to fans of the neo-folks movement, as well as those of classic and pop country. Blues fans are also sure to get their own share of entertainment in this record. In other words, the record’s musical content does more than its share to make the LP so enjoyable and engaging. Its lyrical content is just as accessible as its musical content. That has been proven just as much through the examination presented here. When the songs addressed here are considered with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the album a work that will appeal to audiences everywhere.
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