The lights dim and the ring master appears, or at least that’s what I imagined at the start of Don Ryan’s 18-track mini-show, Tangle Town. The series of folky narratives is captivating right from the big band-styled intro and vintage feel. The opening act illuminates the release with silvery bells contrasting dreary drums to push the audience to the edge of their seat. What truly makes this album glisten is the way that Ryan is able to change his vocal tone from snarky to raspy with ease and romance. Tangle Town also features four intermission pieces, which vary from rag time piano, an out of tune music box, creepy laughter that could have been taken from Stephen King’s Carrie, and cheers for an encore.
To keep its momentum going, the lengthy album keeps pushing forward with distorted fun house-inspired guitar parts and bright, steel strings. However, Tangle Town isn’t all fun and games. The release has a dark side complete with swanky bass and melancholy strings. If that isn’t enough to send tingles down one’s spine, maybe the moans and groans during “Daedalum” will get those little neck hairs standing up. Although there are some dark elements at play, Ryan shows his softer side through his romantic vocals and soft-as-cloud guitar tones. During the catchiest song on Tangle Town, Ryan delivers swinging beats, as well as a clash of melodious and despondent vocals. The disc closes out with some of the most emotive vocals that Don Ryan recorded. One can truly feel his snarl through the pacing of the lyrics in the duet “Crystal Star.”
The only negative piece of feedback for Tangle Town is that there isn’t as strong a curtain closer as the opener. Other than that, the dark circus that Don Ryan brings to life is nothing short of vibrant.
In A Word: Dazzling