Tyler Ramsey “New Lost Ages”

Soundly Music, 2024

Insightful lyrics and smart production choices make this a gentle indie-folk gem.

“Get out, these ghosts / Let them out / Let them all go,” sings former Band of Horses guitarist Tyler Ramsey on ‘These Ghosts’, the jangling indie-folk, rock-pop opener to his fifth full length solo album ‘New Lost Ages’. “Dead to me now / Is the sound / But the ringing in my ear / Can not be drowned out,” he further laments. “Some poisonous years / For me to drag around / I’d rather put them down.” The theme of mistakes and regrets, hard to shake off, is one that goes on to recur throughout the 10-tracks, but with reliably solid production from veteran Seattle folk maestro Phil Ek, the high, sweet tone of Ramsey’s voice, and expertly crafted lyrics, every track feels fresh and intriguing.

On ‘Fires’ a hopeful rolling rambler of a tune plays while Ramsey looks to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes: “And now I’m trying to be the phoenix / No more looking back / No more why’d they do that / No more wounded bird.” ‘Dark Dark Dark’ is small but powerful with its short set of repeated lyrics against a swelling musical background as Ramsey struggles with unwanted memories, while on the titular ‘New Lost Ages’ he’s dealing with issues very much in the present, like the state of the world, and realising despairingly that no amount of new age, spiritual thinking can help him (“You’d better get yourself familiar with suffering / Because we’re living in a world that we can’t understand / And I’ve tried all kinds of magical thinking / I try to keep the devil away but our time is at hand / We’ve written every single line of all the empty pages”).

“I need to hide away / Whenever I start feeling the way I do / I don’t want to bring all of this around you,” Ramsey sings softly on ‘Where Were You’ of the guilt he feels placing his emotional baggage on others, even when he longs for them to break through his self imposed barriers: “Where were you / When I needed you around / Where were you / When I was hoping to be found.” ‘Poisonous Summer’ is a string heavy cry of momentary desperation in the knowledge that this too shall pass: “Hold on to the love you can gather / Through this time when the world has gone wrong / I swear this season is passing before too long / And we’ll laugh to see the sunrise.”

The beautiful ‘Flare’ – written in dedication to musician and photographer Neal Casal, who took his own life in 2019 – recounts Ramsey watching a flare go off in the dark ocean ahead of him, not long after he had heard the news of Casal’s passing. “On the beach a gathered crowd / Everyone was looking out / Dazzled by the colored clouds,” he remembers poignantly of the crowd that came once he had reported the distress signal to the police.

Ramsey isn’t all serious here however, he shows his playful side on tracks like the slick and breezy pop-rocker ‘You Should Come Over’ (“Hey you should come over and find me / Yeah you should come over and find me / I’m not sleeping I’m not even tired”) and ‘We Were a Small Town’, which looks back with fondness at his youth (“Remember how the night was / Step out into the streets and run / Until the sun comes up”).

“Writing is simply a release for me,” Ramsey recently reflected. “It’s a way for me to process my own path through this life. Some of the time I get it right — my aim is always honesty in writing.” His honesty does shine through here, clear, true and real, giving heart to stories that feel warm and lived. So next time you hear someone speak the adage that honesty is always the best policy, take a second to consider that that’s as true for art as it is for life.


About Helen Jones 134 Articles
North West based lover of country and Americana.
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Fine Review – like the new Tyler Ramsey-CD