Rye Davis: A Story to Tell
As the title of his debut album suggests Kentucky’s Rye Davis indeed has a story to tell us. He doesn’t waste any time getting to it either. The album leads off with its best song, “They All Know My Name,” which alludes to his mission of communicating his stories through song, and some of the frustrations many musicians have in getting folks to listen. Davis belts out his words with a confidence that people will one day, and his days of putting a tip jar at the front of the stage aren’t meant to last. Co-written with Jeff Blaydes, the song laments the anguish of an artist on stage, pouring his soul out to an audience who could not care less. It’s difficult to imagine anyone ignoring this tune though. And if he keeps writing and recording songs like this, he may well be right about us all knowing his name.
Davis hails from Edmonson County, some 20 miles northeast of Bowling Green, where he lives with his wife. The son of a farmer, Rye spent a year in the Philadelphia Phillies baseball system, launching his songwriting career on bus rides and in hotel rooms between games. And yet A Story to Tell is no tale of baseball glory. The self-described ‘Long Haired Country Boy’ has an album of ten songs with various themes and versatile styles from soulful bluesy to standard fare commercial country, and from dark to dreamy, perhaps an experimentation of which directions Davis wants to take with his craft.
Another song that stands out here is the painful tale of infidelity from the perspective of the unfaithful partner, “She’d Know,” which Davis insists on clarifying was written with his wife, Brandy, and not about her, as fans approach him after live shows with concern. He goes on to stress that songwriting is about storytelling, and meant to connect with people, rather than a personal testimony. He recalls telling one worried fan that “Johnny Cash never really shot a man in Reno,” punctuating his point.
The album’s instrumentation is featured much more prominently in “They All know My Name”, “She’d Know,” “Sometimes, “and “Make it Through the Night.” Guitarist and producer, Taylor Kropp’s work in both arenas stands out in these songs. “Make it Through the Night” cleverly differs from the rest of songs with it’s six minute duration, nominally twice the length of all the others as if stressing the complicated relationship falling apart. Here again Kropp’s guitar work strategically duels against Davis’ voice, and provides a complexity not found in most of the other songs. This is where A Story to Tell really peaks as the cooperation of the producer and the artist blend perfectly. Self-written and self-produced the project stands out with pride of ownership. On songs like these Davis and crew were brave enough to reach for something great, and that’s where artist’s grow regardless how popular they become. It’s worth noting that all songs on the album were written or co-written by Davis. His songwriting partners include: Blaydes, Kropp, Brandy Davis, Jim Fenimo, Mike Short, and Mathew Austin Bell.
The album’s players and principals are:
Rye Jones - Lead Vocals
Taylor Kropp - Electric Guitar, Producer
Johnny Stanton - Bass
Scotty Schultz - Drums/Percussion
Scott Neubert - Acoustic Guitar, Steel Guitar, Dobro
Maria Diem - Background Vocals
You can learn more about Rye Davis at:
Listen to the complete album here: