This article was written by Joel Graves, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson
Having been one-sixth and lead guitarist of The Coral until 2008, Bill Ryder-Jones has since embarked on a solo career that has spanned three slightly contrasting albums. The first, ‘If…’ (2011) an orchestral album inspired by Italian author Italo Calvino’s novel ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller’. The second, his first venture as a singer-songwriter, the 2013 release of the excellent yet gentle ‘A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart’.
Ryder-Jones continues suit with the new ‘West Kirby County Primary’. Ryder-Jones’ hushed vocal stylings are now supported by a heavier backing, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Pavement record. As with ‘A Bad Wind…’ this album is primarily recorded in his old room at his mother’s West Kirby home and, similarly, this album echoes his childhood and life. In a world where lies are rife and lyrics in many pop songs are bland, Ryder-Jones’s honesty and soul-bearing openness is excellently refreshing.
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‘Daniel’ is a haunting song written from his parents’ perspective of the death of his brother; it is heart breaking to listen to and difficult to forget. “When we lost our little boy we tried so hard to stay together”.
‘Two to Birkenhead’, the lead single from the album, is a recital of a daytrip out – and with Ryder-Jones having suffered from agoraphobia, it is understandable why this is a big deal. “I like fun, where’s the fun in being alone?” It is also probably the best, most sincere, and possibly the only song ever to include the destination Conway Park as a lyric.
Though melancholic, ‘West Kirby County Primary’ doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It’s one hundred percent genuine and, whilst a sincerely personal album, it is emotionally relatable to many. Though the tracks do not flow as sweetly as his previous album, they belong together as a fantastic collection of songs.
‘West Kirby County Primary’ is out now via Domino Records.