Bill Ryder-Jones returns with his best album to date. Yawn is the culmination of a seven-year solo career and a pained existence, moving his beautifully depressing guitar music into a much deeper dimension.
Together these ten songs represent a meditative reflection of Ryder-Jones’ self and relationships. The goose bump inducing ‘Don’t Be Scared I Love You’ is a ballad for himself as much as anyone else listening. It comes as no surprise that Ryder-Jones isn’t exactly upbeat; his own mental health has always been paramount to his lyricism, West Kirby Primary’s ‘Daniel’ gave the most heart wrenching musical expression of grief that I have ever heard. Yet, something about Yawn is musically darker. Ryder-Jones’ hushed voice, held in perfect balance with a dark textural and instrumental landscape, is truly stunning.
Each song seems to form a body. The repetitive guitar melody ebbs and flows like air from the lungs, a counter guitar melody forms the blood in the veins, and twinkling drums and sustained cello drones work in harmony with the slow bass heartbeat. Most of the time, Ryder-Jones lets this body stay relaxed. Yet, sometimes, it is released to the wind to run. ‘Mither’, an ode to Ryder-Jones’ mother, bounces between the two culminating in a Pixie-esque soundscape which leaves you almost feeling the windburn on your cheeks.
If I’m going to be honest, this album may not be for everyone. It’s a perfectly produced guitar album, but it demands attention. To get the most out of this work you need a cup of strong tea and ears willing to listen to the crafted words which swell deep from Bill Ryder-Jones’ soul. It’s clearly therapy for Ryder-Jones to make music, and I’d happily be overwhelmed by his emotions any day of the week.