Preview Two Different Worlds by Ryan Koenig.
Two Different Worlds by Ryan Koenig
Rather more frequently these days I find myself asking, “where have I seen him/her before”, “where have I heard that?”. I did it again when listening to this debut album from Ryan Koenig. Is there something familiar here? There is, and the link lies in his long-time collaboration with Pokey LaFarge who I saw over here a few years ago. Now he is branching out on his own. Two Different Worlds gives Ryan Koenig a long-overdue opportunity to demonstrate his own talents of songwriting and musicianship.
Much of the album has a honky tonk feel, leaning towards Tex-Mex. Koenig sings of love and heartbreak in the finest traditions but there is nothing old-fashioned here. He gives these staples of songwriting a modern, fresh feel while adding more up to date themes such as the gentrification of a familiar neighbourhood.
Coming from St Louis, MO, Koenig turns from a Midwesterner into a highly credible inhabitant of the Lone Star State or further south. From a lyrical point of view, ‘Podemos Si Ti Quieres’ is the best example. “In a little cantina down Mexico way, I met a sweet señorita” is the lonesome cowboy trying to put that right. New single, ‘Cheyenne’ is a heartbreaking farewell lament about the inevitable moving on.
There is a grittiness about some of these songs, whether the tough life of ‘Strugglin With A Lot’, being stuck in the cold north of ‘Puebla Mexico’ there is always hope, respectively the occasional good time and escape to warmer climes. That hope is put to the test on ‘This Old Main Drag Is About To Drag Me Down’, about new money sweeping out old residents in the name of improvement.
Though lyrically beautifully crafted what makes these songs is Koenig’s playing and arrangements. He creates such a Tex-Mex sound with the horns, accordion and guitar lines weaving in a wide range of musicians. However, in the end it is Ryan Koenig who should be judged for this album and for that the score is distinction for a debut of great authenticity.