Somehow, in between the relentless touring schedule of State Champs, Ryan Scott Graham has somehow managed put together his new Speak Low If You Speak Love album Nearsighted, the follow up to his beautiful debut full-length Everything But What You Need. Opening track ‘Have I Changed’ is brought in with Graham crooning “I’m a fraud,” and though years after his last release, you’re instantly reminded of the delicate demanour of his tracks.
From debut album to sophomore album,the three-year gap is clear. Not necessarily making it a departure, but the growing up in between is evident. What started out seeming like an acoustic side project has returned with more depth and more grit, deserving of the central spotlight. One thing that remains the same is the way Graham wears his heart on his sleeve to produce extremely melodious tracks written like warm love letters, the listening experience is one that swerves between making your heart feel full and torn into pieces.
With lyrics like “Swirling like oceans apart from each other, you and I may never be lovers,” in ‘Contrasting Colors’, his gripping songwriting leaves you feeling very moved. The 12-track record is a seamless journey, with each track unlocking a new layer we haven’t encountered before. Each track just as heartfelt as the last – even with tracks like ‘Circle Spinning’, a more upbeat indie jam you can bop to. A highlight of the record is closing track ‘Swell’, also the album’s longest track, is one that starts off like classic Speak Low If You Speak Love before it’s taken over by instrumental experimentation.
In many ways, Speak Low If You Speak Love has become so much more than just “the side project of that guy from State Champs” but one that showcases Graham as the multifaceted solo artist that he is. As raw and honest as you’d expect him to be, there is no shortage of emotive lyrics that leaves even the coldest of hearts in a state of catching feelings.