Chicago has been given the wonderful gift of Ryan Herrick, stealing him from his home on the east coast. This rising star has rare skills on the acoustic guitar and a voice that will make you instantly add his well-crafted tracks to your new playlists. To date, Herrick has released Sagitta, One, and Inheritage.
Ryan Herrick released his first full-length album, One, in 2016. This 10-song LP is 51 minutes of pure, unadulterated acoustic rock at its finest. From the very beginning, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to John Butler. His guitar playing richly expresses itself so well that instrumental tracks like One into One and Lessons stand alone as some of the best tracks on this album.
When Herrick does unleash his voice though, it’s clear that he draws influence from another era. With depth and rugged power, Herrick would have thrived in a time where bands like Days of the New and Silverchair were on the rise. Nevertheless, his deep, smooth vocals jive well with the smoky mountain twang of his guitar and the folk-inspired, poppy melodies he lays down track after track.
Banshee was among my favorite songs featured on One. With an incredible display of vocal range, this emotional love song encapsulates what he does best from a songwriting perspective. Holy Water continues to put his vocals on full display – they almost sound like a mix between Darius Rucker and Birds of Tokyo‘s Ian Kenny – while tacking on one of his best build ups and guitar work overall. For some reason, I picture myself cranking this tune as I embark upon a seemingly endless road trip south.
But, without a doubt, Lessons stole the show for me on this LP. This track takes you on a beautiful journey through life’s trials and tribulations. From the upbeat exploration of the world and testing of boundaries, to the triumph of overcoming obstacles, to chaos of life and our learning process, to a resolute ending, Herrick takes you there on this 9 minute feat.
One’s two closing tracks also grabbed my attention. Way Back to You is an upbeat love song that he could use to seduce any number of Southern belles and Good as Gone shows off a different style of guitar, throwing bluesy steel guitar in your face and not stopping. It’s the perfect closer to a superb full-length.
Herrick followed up 2016’s One with an EP entitled Sagitta in 2017. For the most part, Sagitta showed a departure from his solo work that was a focal point prior to this project. This record features Ryan Herrick (Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Banjo, Percussion), Cole Coppola (Electric Guitar, Vocals, Percussion),Travis Johnson (Bass, Keys, Vocals), and Travis Maxim (Drums, Percussion, Vocals).
Sagitta will immediately draw you in with a signature Ryan Herrick insane acoustic guitar lick and keep your attention with the steady rock feel behind Whiteclay. This head bobber is a great intro the band’s evolved sound. Black Snake displays a darker, more ominous side of the band and definitely has a Native American ceremonial vibe to it. The passion and spoken word verses mesh nicely with the seductive bass line and vibrant banjo work.
Which Way will likely be most people’s favorite tune from Sagitta. This catchy rock song features an extremely intense vocal performance and a melody that will be hard to get out of your head. I’m a fan of their ability to show off their poppier side here. Change is a banger that that kicks off immediately and provides an instant change of pace (see what I did there?!). To me, this song could easily be a B-side off of VS by Pearl Jam. It’s incredibly well-written and catchy as all get out.
Holy cow does this man have some serious talent! His songwriting chops, incredible voice, amazing guitar playing, and uncanny ability to construct melodies that flow beautifully make for a body of work that will make your ears very, very happy. While there are certainly some tracks that push his boundaries a little too far and are sometimes over indulgent, his long list of gems is second to none in the Chicago acoustic rock department.
Ryan’s got a plethora of shows lined up for this summer, which you can keep an eye on at his personal website or the social links below. I know I’ll be clearing my calendar to check him out at his next Chicago gig. This guy is a must listen!