The EP is a great opportunity for an artist to release new music more quickly and keep the listeners’ attention with a shorter track listing. But it also comes with the challenge of having to present oneself musically the best way you can within a smaller amount of time. Ohio-born songwriter Ryan Robinette shows us just how to pull it off with his EP “Coming of Age.”
The title track “Coming of Age” starts us off with a reflection on young summer love. From June to the cooling days of August, “deep inside the fire burned just the same” because this couple was “summertime lovin’, a couple of kids tangled up in each other so tight by the firefly light.” The romantic tale is told to the tune of bluesy guitar riffs and feel-good fiddle notes. It’s a story that’s been told many times, but Ryan tells it in a different, easygoing kind of way.
Cranking things up a notch, “Just Another Party Song” delivers on its name, in a tongue in cheek kind of way. The song refers to “all night drinkin’, nobody’s thinkin’” and Jack and guitars, but Ryan’s chill-sounding vocals keep things more lighthearted than the usual booze-fueled celebration tune. This one is more for your “have a few beers and just have a simple good time” parties more than your “get wasted and maybe start a fight” nights, and that’s a refreshing change.
“Dark Side of Me” is the song that will leave you in tears. Here Ryan humbly pours out just how bad he can be when he’s at his worst self, and just how grateful he is to have someone who sticks around despite it all:
“I thank God every day she doesn’t leave me, ’cause I know sometimes I think she should.”
We can all be our own worst critics and wonder just how we could be loved by anyone who does with all the faults that we see.
“I thank God she’s there to pull me through, even when I know she shouldn’t have to.”
That’s the kind of love we all want. The kind that sees the full portrait of us, the good and the bad, and stands by us even when the very worst parts of us come out.
On the other side of the coin, “This Ain’t Love” talks about the kind of relationship we don’t want. This song is a lament of an empty partnership with someone who’s not really all in. A total lack of any emotions makes it a waste of time for Ryan:
“We don’t really argue, we don’t really fight, maybe that’s the part that bothers me the most
Even when we’re high, I feel we’re just all right
I know it’s comfortable, but I can’t sit back and coast.”
Compared to the unconditional love in the prior track, here there’s no passion. And “as bad as you want me, this ain’t love.”
Ending things is “It’s Gonna Pour”, which takes the journey from true love to lukewarm love to lost love. Ryan is in the mourning stages and places himself in the places that remind him of her: Her side of the bed, the places they hung out, her “birthday bottle of Merlot.” He knows that all of this will bring him to tears, but there seems to be some comfort in the sadness. This is truly what loss feels like for many.
In just five songs, “Coming of Age” manages to have something for everyone. There’s an element in the stories of each song that will connect to someone’s life and strike a chord the way good music should. And Ryan is able to do so with simple, relaxing vocals and musical backing. It’s a stark contrast to the more bombastic productions that we’re used to in today’s Country, but it reminds us what the genre has always been about.
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