Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There's a lot of getting lost in Ryan Monroe songs and just a little bit of getting found. It seems like it might always be like that for his characters, despite their great wishes for a reversal of the two. There are too many people who have gotten out - either led by impulse or fear - and just a few who have stuck it (whatever that it might be) out and hung around to finish writing and then tell the tale. Some of these tales are never going to have endings - happy or sad - and sometimes that just brings something like a sad ending, if we're to be fair about it. It's a stagnant backdrop where you're seeing all there is to see, feeling all there is to feel and the circulation happens to be relatively poor as well. There are demons roaming around, like they're not surprised to be there and neither is anyone else. They scream at night sometimes, but who doesn't?
Monroe, best known as a multi-instrumentalist in Band of Horses, wrote a debut solo album that mines the thoughts of people who are constantly torn between staying and leaving. Just when you think you're dealing with someone intent on hanging around, everything changes and you have your doubts. Then, those who seemed most invested turn out to be ready to turn and run, like spooked animals after a shotgun blast. He sings from the perspective of one man on "The Darkness Will Be Gone," "Looking for a good reason to run," before realizing that he wasn't coming up with anything so, by default, he stayed. It doesn't mean that he should have stayed anymore than it might indicate that he should have left. All it does is create a perpetual shifting of weight, from one foot to the other, as nothing much is altered. Elsewhere, he's convincing others that they shouldn't leave, that if they're looking for something, he's here to help. He sings, "If you need help turning over leaves/You can count on me." The need for her staying is mostly selfish, just as the urge to leave would be. It's just hard forgetting the past and old loves. It's the stickiest of glues. You hear it here, "I still see your shadow in the shade, pouring over me/Seeing your eyes from the glare coming off the lake/I still see your shadow in the shade/And I hear you say/You look so lonely." It never goes away and the loneliness may reign as well.