Ryan Beaver Remedies Country Crossover Appeal With ‘Rx’ (ALBUM REVIEW)


RB-RXcover-1024x1024Country music today is littered with watered down garbage that’s so crossover, it shouldn’t dare even deign to be associated with the genre. There’s a soullessness to so much of what’s on offer, it can make you feel hopeless about the future. But artists like Ryan Beaver are looking for something a little deeper and more true to form, which is especially evident on his new record Rx. Beaver’s sound is classic country with a pop sensibility that has crossover potential, but doesn’t stray too far from his roots. His songs are catchy enough for ample radio play, but not shallow enough to disintegrate as you listen to them. Simply put, the guy knows how to craft a swoon-worthy hook.

“Swoon” is the key word for Beaver’s album. He sings about epic romance (with just a hint of cheese), and his arrangements are larger than life. The twang in his voice keeps it pure country, and he belts it out with a masculine smoothness that hits like a refreshing cold beer. “When This World Ends” is one of the best examples of Beaver’s knack for professing his undying love, but keeping it manly like a good cowboy would. And “Still Yours” follows suit with cleverly written lyrics about making love last. The chorus to this one will stay with you.

Beaver is best, though, when he pares it down. “Jesus Was a Capricorn (Intro)” finds him doing a stripped down, rustic performance of a quaint and cheeky little country-fried tune about the man upstairs. This song bleeds into the album’s standout “Kristofferson”, an ode to one of the country greats. Beaver’s lyrics tell the story of Kris Kristofferson’s music as a cure-all remedy for everything from heartbreak to a shitty day. “And the tears they run/When the truth falls from your tongue/Kristofferson”. It’s a smartly written song that’s worth countless repeat listens.

The theme of remedies runs throughout Beaver’s record, as is evident from its title. Searching for them, abusing them, and ultimately, abandoning them. The title track “Rx” finds him exploring the difficulties of getting older, and adding more baggage to your heap. “I guess we all got things to get us by/I can’t judge I’ve got mine/Ain’t no such thing as a perfect drug/And in the end it’s never enough,” he sings. Beaver conveys a sense of deep regret, sadness, depression and hopelessness in this song, and throughout the record. His voice is expressive and rich, and he uses it to each song’s advantage, whether he’s looking for a quick fix (“Rum & Roses”) or a way out (“If I Had a Horse”).

Beaver has the honesty of Jason Isbell and the showmanship of Eric Church, and bridges them effortlessly. He can be vulnerable and charismatic in one fell swoop and leave you wondering how he did it, and wanting more.

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