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Ben Ryan - Abacus (Self-Released)

5 April 2018

A newer name from Vancouver, Ben Ryan updates the music of his idols including Billy Joel and Ray Charles with a more polished modern sound. His debut Abacus is a six song EP in which he plays the majority of the instruments himself except for drums. It may appear a curious title for one’s first release, but it makes a lot more sense when you know that Ryan was previously a student of economics. The songs show a musician who hasn’t quite yet found a voice of his own, but the inevitable growth it promises and the glimpses of an artistic personality of Ryan’s own make for more than enticing listening.

The explosive crescendos and lush production of “Peru” are obviously meant for the arenas, but Ryan also offers hints of a more intimate and pensive side to his songwriting with “Never Go” and the closer “Diamond Mine.” He has plenty of fun too with the country pop-tinged “Gold” and the theatrics of “Home,” giving the EP the feeling of a grab bag of many different styles of pop, yet each as catchy as the last. Abacaus ends up spreading itself thin ever so slightly, but it nevertheless has many fantastic moments which suggest an even brighter future.