“I’ve seen for miles before my time / Years before I was born, and years after I’ll die”
If you look carefully enough, via clues like this lyric from Run Rabbit Run, the underlying thread running through the rustic alt. country and poignant folk songs of RYLAND MORANZ will reveal itself as the passage of time.
Populated by real and imagined heroes and villains, the everyday and the extraordinary, the trials of life and matters of the heart, Ryland’s compositions span bygone days, the here and now, and what may yet be to come, both for himself and for us all. Continuing in the grand tradition of great storytellers, Ryland filters the spirits and genius of literary giants like Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway through the compositional templates determined by Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, or Blaze Foley, whose tragic demise is recalled in the affecting There Ain’t New Songs, which, like the ragtime-style Run Rabbit Run, is one of many sublime highlights featured on Ryland’s beautiful January 2021 sophomore release, XO, 1945.
Both in his own right as a solo artist and as an integral member of Leeroy Stagger’s potent alt. country outfit, the Rebeltone Sound, Ryland spends considerable time traversing the highways and byways of Canada, the US, and Europe, reflecting on personal growth and empathetically noting all around him, absorbing the images, stories, events, and experiences of the road as he goes. While the miles and time slip by Ryland reads, mainly history and classic literature, and of the new songs that have emerged from an inspired combination of the compelling pages of his book choices and all he sees through tour bus windows in pursuit of his art, Ryland says:
“I feel less like a writer of fiction and more like a collector of sorts. It’s a romantic notion, but I like the idea of being a hopeful observer of the world and the people in it. I think in a roundabout way that’s what the new record is about, and kind of why I called it ‘XO, 1945’ – kind regards from a past that’s different than you remember.”
The album title, XO, 1945, holds a mirror to the title of Ryland’s 2016 solo debut, Hello New Old World, as if in continuation of his sanguine faith in humankind turning the corner. It’s a lyrically poetic, sonically earthy album of gritty roots rockers and moving, nostalgic balladry, propelled by Ryland’s clawhammer banjo, electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, mandola and harmonica, and intoned in a characterful voice recalling a young Steve Earle.
Ryland – who, for the record, is also a visual artist, session musician, audio engineer, digital audio researcher and experienced tour manager – is based in Lethbridge, AB, an artistic community historically founded on mining and agriculture, and where, at Leeroy’s Rebeltone Ranch studio, XO, 1945 was adroitly crafted. Ryland’s band, His Darkest Secrets, comprises the artist’s Rebeltone Sound compadres Tyson Maiko (upright bass), Kyle Harmon (drums) and Michael Ayotte (keyboards, accordion, percussion), who for this project were augmented by cellist George Fowler and Calvin Volrath on fiddle, while Leeroy contributed harmony vocals.
With ‘normal’ life on pause for the foreseeable future, Ryland will continue to passionately read, further enriching his mind with the classics, and, as that hopeful observer, gather and amass stories for the songs of Album # 3 and, quite likely # 4…and onward. Only time will tell…
HIS DARKEST SECRETS ARE:
Tyson Maiko / Bass, Spirit Animal
Michael Ayotte / Keys, Hugs
Kyle Harmon / Drums, Percussion, Warp Drive
Wallee / Cat