Ryan Smith – Primary Numbers CD Review


Columbus, Ohio’s Ryan Smith is an amazing lyricist. Soon after moving to Columbus, he was one of the first artists I first saw at Andyman’s Treehouse when he opened for somebody I liked. “Swimming” caught me. “Girls With Glasses” hooked me. His 2006 release “Neil Avenue” was among my  most listened to CDs of that year. I said his 2008 release “I Just Want To Feel That Way” “… could be the best six Paul Westerberg songs that Paul Westerberg neither wrote nor recorded.” (You can read that here.)

After taking some time off to get a rip-roaring DJ business started (and he’s awesome, too, so if you’re in Central Ohio, hire him), I was excited to get an email from him when “Waiting” was released in 2012, and it was rich in layering and some great studio work, and quickly added to the playlist, and became my third favorite EP released last year. In fact, I said in my year-end review (here), that it is “interesting electropop, taking generous use of looping, layering and a bevy of sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere, especially when listening with earphones, or in the car. It’s like a sonic treat for your brain.”

So I was excited to get an email from him with a link to his new album, “Primary Numbers,” before it’s released on April 23, 2013.  To be honest, Ryan’s always hooked me up with his stuff before it’s released, and I’m always glad to get new music. This was no different, i dove in, saw it was 11 tracks, so we’re talking full album, hit the download link, and started listening to it. The first track, “An Introduction of Sorts,” starts of with some interesting synthesized piano, which is in nice change from the guitars he usually uses. And as I sat there listening, I realized … uh … okay … must be an instrumental. With nice layering. Okay. That’s cool. Then “Just Enough To Make It Not Awkward” started playing. More of the same. Instrumental. Synthesized piano. Layering. Loops. For 11 songs. Yep.  Turns out the whole CD is completely instrumental. Which is cool, just not what I was expecting.

I love to see artists I enjoy grow, and evolve and stretch the envelope of their ability, challenge themselves and become more skilled at what they do, and I guess, since his lyrical prowess is already at a level with some of my favorite songwriters, this is a natural progression.

It’s a good album as far as instrumentals go, I’m just not really a fan of instrumentals. I like lyrics way too much, and Ryan writes great lyrics. Anyway, all that being said, here’s a link to the first single, “Simple Things” … you can give it a listen and form your own opinion of it. I’m hoping it grows on me.  “Simple Things” is available for a free download, as most of his music is.  I just feel that many Ryan Smith fans are going to feel the same way I do: Waiting to go back to Neil Avenue because I Just Want To Feel That Way I used to listening to Ryan Smith sing some words.  Now where’s my copy of “Girls With Glasses” at?

Right-Click to download “Simple Things” as an MP3.
(Courtesy of Ryan Smith. Probably until he reads this review.)

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