Ryan Monroe A Painting of a Painting on Fire
  • MONDAY, JULY 02, 2012

  • Posted by: Amanda Scherker

It takes guts (and perhaps the right proportion of talent to ego) for somebody in a well-established band to strike out on their own. It's sort of like a popular kid in a small town moving to New York City -- if you fail, every local gossip is guaranteed to point and whisper about how you should have stayed in the comfort zone of relative obscurity. But Ryan Monroe is no small town talent. Not only is his album a successful revival of rock tradition, but it is so stylistically different from his chicly moody indie-kid group, Band of Horses. It sets out to groove like the faded stars of rock 'n roll's past -- and it does, though perhaps with a little less bite.

Monroe's voice so vividly evokes another era that it's as if he's being momentarily possessed by a collective spirit of the '70s. While the album occasionally seems to lack momentum, some of the better tracks, like the vivid "On The Beach," pick up the slack. In this simultaneously sun-kissed yet mournful tune, the driving guitar licks hastens the energy and perks up the ears.

The product alone is absolutely impressive, but Monroe's painstakingly thorough process makes it that much more so. He played every instrument, and every part, of the album. Suddenly, it makes a lot of sense that he decided to try his hand at being his own band: the album ultimately reads as a talent show of his range as well as his ability to conjure a vision and tone so different from what his fans expect from him. I have a feeling Monroe won't be packing up to go home anytime soon.

Watch a short documentary on the making of the album:









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