Singer-songwriter-guitarist Tyler Ramsey is best known for his work with indie rock group, Band of Horses, but his career spans a steady stream of solo albums in addition to his supporting work. Leaving the band after a decade of records and touring, he brought his focus back to family and personal form, releasing his fourth solo collection earlier this year. With harmonies that float through a room like sun rays in late afternoon, early reviews have likened “For The Morning” to the ethereal works of the late Nick Drake.
The album, Ramsey says in a recent press announcement, “…came about in the midst of a lot of change.”
“The birth of my daughter, a move to the country, and the steady realization that I needed to switch the road I was on in my life as a musician and songwriter.”
There are melancholic strums throughout the album, from the lead track, “Your Whole Life” to “Breaking A Heart.” As Ramsey notes, the record tells a story, with “A Dream of Home” and “Cheap Summer Dress” evoking the feelings of relationship strain while the twangy notes of “Evening Country” reflect the influence of Southern guitar greats. The 10-song-set wraps up with its title track, closing out the collection with a sweet woefulness that makes Ramsey’s music such a bewitching experience.
You can catch Tyler Ramsey currently sharing the stage with fellow guitarist Carl Broemel (of My Morning Jacket) on a small venue tour dubbed the West Coast Duo Quest. The two will perform in Portland and Seattle this weekend, at Polaris Hall and Columbia City Theater respectively, before heading to the Southwest.
You better know where you’re going, babe, before you go…
Q: What brought you to music?
A: When I first started playing, it was piano – I was around nine years old and was lucky enough to have a teacher that encouraged improvisation and also recognized that I had a decent ear. I think that kept me interested and made me want to learn more.
Q: Who were your inspirations growing up?
A: My favorite guitarists, and the ones who made me want to play, were Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges. I found them early on and loved the fact that the guitar could stand on its own as a solo instrument, as a vehicle for such interesting composition.
Q: How does this new album, your fourth, reflect your evolution since your last solo album release in 2011?
A: I think this album is another step in the direction that I’ve been headed for a while. I feel like the songs capture the story of my life at the time, and my abilities in the studio get stronger each time I’m able to be there.
Q: Are there any songs on the latest release that are particularly poignant for you?
A: I can remember the moments when I was writing the title track, “For The Morning,” with my newborn daughter in her baby carrier on my chest as I played the piano. Playing that song can take me there to that time.
Q: Would you consider playing with another ensemble in the future?
A: I do now! I have a band that I have been touring with for this album – pedal steel, guitar, bass and drums, and some really beautiful harmony vocals.
Q: What are your words of advice for up-and-coming musicians?
A: I’ve always felt that the ultimate goal of music is the personal joy that I get out of it. I feel like if you love playing and it is a creative path for you, then keep doing it and maybe it will take you places.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Lots of touring coming up for the rest of the year. I’m headed back to Europe in the fall with my band and then hopefully a little downtime with some writing and recharging.
Photo credit: Hard Head Management