The Dan Ryan – Guidance (2017)
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Picture yourself in a desert landscape as dusk begins to fall and the night air chills. There’s a silhouetted group of figures, shrouded in heavy blankets and wide-brimmed hats, huddling closer to the warmth of a fire. The flames glow on the horizon, inviting weary travelers to join the sacred circle.
This is the kind of fever dream that transpires on the Dan Ryan’s sophomore album, Guidance. Tribal drumming, cyclical guitar lines, chanting—each sound echoes throughout the rocky canyons carved out by the band, as frontman Nathan Dixey’s wandering, conjuring vocal melodies serve as a guide while ghostly organs and hypnotic rattlesnake shakers enhance the experience.
The Dan Ryan boasted potential on its eponymous debut LP, and it delivers on that promise with Guidance. Sonically developed and cohesive, the songs intoxicate as they slowly build. Bookended by two strong tracks—booming opener “Ring Them Bells (Carrion Crow)” and woozy closer “Elysian Fields”—the album also hits high points with the swirling psych rock of the title track and the lilting refrain of “Reckoning.”
Stylistically the tradition of Texas psychedelic music, which has seen continued revitalization over the course of the last decade, permeates throughout album. But the band also looks west toward the folk of 1960s California as a point of reference. Without placating pop sensibilities, the music manages to be accessible for a wide range of listeners while being a must-listen for fans who enjoy mind-expanding journeys through well-crafted tracks.