Everyone has a story. You can look into people’s eyes and get a glimpse of where they have been, where they are, and where they even might be going. Singer songwriter Ryan Davidson catalogs those human tales on his new self-released, full-length album, A Wick Burning High (released April 7th).
A WICK BURNING HIGH is filled with songs and stories that will pull at your heart strings and not leave your head. But it all stems from Ryan’s personal story; at 13-years-old, the Chico, California native was riding his bike when a semi-truck suddenly cut him off, ran him over twice, dragged him, and then stopped on top of him—as he recalls. Bedridden for nearly year and facing what would eventually be 15 surgeries to provide him with a half-artificial right leg, he picked up music. “I was a super active kid, but after that accident, I couldn’t really do much” he sighs. “We had these instruments in the house, and I told my mom I wanted to learn how to play guitar.”
He practically became fused to the instrument and, at 14, joined his first band. A few years later – and still in high school – he found himself touring through the bustling California punk scene. After over a decade of touring and releasing punk records in the US in his band Hit By A Semi, he up and moved to Ireland where he spent two years studying Irish folk music. “I grew up with it, so it was always a part of me. I felt it was time to dive into it and learn it properly, down to the roots.”
Effortlessly blending genres like folk with alternative, a bit of Irish, with just the right amount of punk. The album includes the organic barroom chant of “Whiskey With My Friends,” which Ryan calls, “an anthem to remember the good times with the ones you love.” At the same time, his vivid lyricism takes the spotlight over a delicate acoustic strum on the first single “St. Louis” and “Kay” serves as a tribute to a triumphant friend battling a life-threatening illness with her head held high, while “Silver Dagger” serves as Ryan’s take on a classic performed by everyone from Bob Dylan and Dolly Parton to Joan Baez and Gillian Welch. “It’s an old folk song so many artists have twisted over the years,” he says. “I wanted to give tribute to the song, but rewrite the story into a duet.”
Ultimately, Ryan’s stories are meant to inspire on A Wick Burning High. “I’m a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel sort of guy,” he leaves off. “My accident took a lot from me, but in return I was given the gift of music. I wouldn’t trade anything for this journey. If I could convey that appreciation and love of life, that would be incredible.”
The prolific Ryan Davidson has refined the poetry of his songwriting, creating his own working class aesthetic where beauty and darkness often trade punches—emotional, intelligent, minimalist, and unapologetic.
The release of A Wick Burning High has more than just caught the attention of listeners, it’s turning heads. Rootstime (Belgium) declares the collection, “Excellent”, stating it “evokes a comparison between the dynamic narrative style of Ryan Davidson with artists like Tom Waits and Billy Bragg”, while Midwest Record regards Davidson as “A solid new voice in the nu folk movement. The passion and fire is sure to grab you. Hard.”