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Ryan Shelkett - Someone Becomes No One (Steadfast)

Ryan Shelkett-Someone Becomes No One
5 February 2023

Singer/guitarist Shelkett’s career in the Baltimore emo scene goes back 30 years, having fronted and released albums with Blank, Cross My Heart, Dead Red Sea, and Liars Academy. This debut solo LP was produced by Washington, DC hardcore/punk vet J. Robbins (bassist for Government Issue, and singer/guitarist in Jawbox and Burning Airlines), who also contributes organ, keyboards, percussion, and slide guitar. But it’s only on the abrasive, Jason Loewenstein/Sebadoh-ish rocker “Damage,” bits of the explosive “Mercy Street,” and the smoldering “The Sun Will Rise” where volume levels reach those of his older bands.

The rest is quieter, introspective mood/folk-pop, with Shelkett ruminating on the effects of growing older in his aromatic, solemn baritone. On songs like the despondent “There Is No One,” regretful “Corroded” (and its tense, Comsat Angels/Sound-tinted guitars), aching “Strange Behavior” (with its R.E.M./“E-Bow the Letter”-like keyboards), and pleading “Chasing the Night,” Someone Becomes No One has a spiritual grace that is poignant and consoling. (