From Nashville with Youthful Soul, 'From RyAnne, With Love' is a Rangy Debut
Evan Dale // Jan 16, 2021
From Nashville, with soulful youth, From RyAnne, With Love is more than a lovely listen. It’s a stylistic change of pace from within a citywide creative renaissance. The young songwriter and beaming vocalist is weaving a whole mess of emotions in and out of a willing experimentalism to draw a connection between her collaborative hip-hop experience through the last year, and a more acoustic folk-nuanced R&B lane that brings to mind names of artists like Dijon and Omar Apollo. For the largely hip-hop centric Nashville underground – a scene that has been steadily emerging as one of the more creatively dominant for the past year or two, especially – RyAnne’s sound, and subsequently, her debut EP, tow a keystone moment where stylistic transcendence is for the first time in the new Nashville grabbing the stage from the gray area between hip-hop and R&B, and in its place, exploring something altogether new.
For her part, RyAnne is a dynamic vocalist whose contributions to myriad cuts in 2020 became the standout additions to a number of Nashville projects. Alongside her Third Eye & Co. teammates, her ubiquitous voice brought a needed emotional and soulful edge to JORDAN Xx’s Surfing: Highs N Lows (Roses), Ron Obasi’s Sun Tapes (Song From Apta), Chuck Indigo’s No Moor Bad Days (God Is a Woman), and Jxdece’s SYA (Soul On Fire). Following this line of the Nashville scene, there are a few things that have become expected when seeing RyAnne’s name featured on a track: a more emotionally in-tune exploration of hip-hop’s crossroads with R&B; a give-and-take between the rapped and the sung; a unique take on a classic Neo-Soul sound, driven with fervent vocalism and relatable penmanship. But now, with her turn to work the mainstage, she’s delivering a project even more unique than expected.
Hers is a particular and largely unequivocal direction for modern R&B artists to take. Without mentioning those few, that are too, taking their own independence and emotional intelligence into account when crafting experimentally driven music, RyAnne is redefining what the future of R&B, of Neo-Soul, and of Nashville can sound like, not by looking forwards, but instead by weaving her seeming fondness for acoustic notes, instrumentalism, and all-encompassing musical softness into a still-emerging hotbed for lyrically-focused Southern hip-hop and jazz oriented soul. Through that lens, From RyAnne, With Love blossoms as a vibrant coming-of-age debut from an artist so dynamically and equally driven by story, by musical emotionality, and by range.
From beginning to end of the 15-minute project, there is no escaping – and no need to escape – from our protagonist’s most personal stories intersecting with her also personal explorations of unique musical spaces. And amidst the mosaic of those spaces, perhaps what comes into focus as most impressive about RyAnne’s aesthetic at large, is just how seamless she is not only at transcending one stylistic exploration to the next, but at succeeding in drawing all of her sounds akin underneath the grandiose banner of her creative breadth. Take, for example, the stark change in pace between the EP’s first track, Eastside, and its second, Foolish Heart. The former is a low-key, downtempo, and ultimately mellow glimpse into her soul’s accompaniment of hip-hop, where fellow Nashville transcendentalist, Jxdece drops off a verse. The latter removes itself from the understated nature of its predecessor, instead brimming with a dominant exhibition of RyAnne’s register and its subsequent emotion. Though both tracks gleam with the vocal range of the young Nashville soulstress, they couldn’t be more different from one another. And yet, underneath her mellow and relatable demeanor, her adherence to an emotional edge, and the genius of production (@mixedbycole) tying the whole of the project together, they piece perfectly.
And that’s really the larger story of From RyAnne, With Love. From track-to-track, stark stylistic differentiations bleed of RyAnne’s range. After all, the third inclusion of the project, I Miss You, is an atmospheric, experimental, folk-oriented interlude that still has no trouble tying in with the rest of her already established mosaic of lanes. That’s because, from track-to-track, there is something more to RyAnne than meets the ear – a seemingly boundless collection of stylistic aesthetics she’s so capable of exploring. And from track-to-track, From RyAnne, With Love is a genial introduction to so many of the aesthetics that she’s adept at conveying. To see where it is all headed will likely require a career’s worth of canonical pieces exploring the range she’s established here, and that’s okay with us.