Folk rocker Ryan Davies launches his debut album under his pseudonym 'Marching Donald'. Armed with only an acoustic guitar and an impressive growler (steady on), this passionate musician demonstrates his undoubted guitar talent and extensive song writing skills.
So he's not compatible to any Ed Sheeran or up and coming Lewis Watson of the acoustic singer/songwriter variety but is more comparable to rockers and undoubtedly his influences; Bob Dylan ('Love & Theft'), with AC/DC like rhythms and a elements of Paul Weller thrown in for good measure. Suitable contemporaries of today to compare him with include Jonny Flynn and Belle and Sebastian.
Production here is not top priority with Davies as a starting out musician on undoubtedly a low budget, limited hours, lack of multi-tracking and in an amateur studio. There are, in parts peaks and troughs. Generally, there's a perfect balanced between guitar and vocal parts ('Author of the World', 'Touch of Blue') and an excellent level of reverb ('Touch of Blue' and 'Creeping Thistle'). 'Release Me' has an addictive and emotionally charged vocal line that is obviously heartfelt and very emotive. There's a few out of tune squarks, but at least The Donald doesn't have the audacity to use auto-tuner which puts the finger up to current acts such as Will.I.Am and captures a raw feel, which let's face is is what guitar music is about.
'Author of the World' introduces us to the album with an up-beat pace, chords full of character and honest lyrics. Catchy, impressionable, simple and effective. Heavier rock-orientated tracks 'Praise for your Portrait', 'Drowning Appetite' and 'Valley Skies' include passionate but distinctive vocals. Occasionally forced in parts, but necessary in others, such as the impressionable 'Praise to your Portrait' which helps define the vocal line. Otherwise these three really stand out as something that pushes Davies away from the ever so smoochy Sheeran and towards a maturer approach to singer/songwriting that doesn't always include the a-typical contrast between tentative vocals or pedals and loops. 'Valley Skies' are owed much recognition for its build of tension, alternative takes on each verse and the break down towards the end of the track which I can vouch for is always impressive live.
Softer tracks 'Touch of Blue', 'Grindstone', 'Creeping Thistle' and 'Duvet Day' show a softer side to Davies and demonstrate his instrumental playing as not just a rhythm guitarist but also his capabilities as the lead with interesting riffs and fills ('Touch of Blue', 'Creeping Thistle' and 'My Book'). The ironic 'Touch of Blue' has beautiful melodies and a delightful ending. Lyrics "You're just so bright, with a touch of blue" and "Just when you think your thread is bare, some harmless breeze comes and throws you off your chair" particularly warm the heart. 'Creeping Thistle' is reminiscent of southern-state melodies with accents on the vocal line, a plucked guitar line and twists or hammering on throughout. Doubling up on guitar and melody vocals are quite simply charming on 'Duvet Day'.
Best tracks include 'Praise to Your Portrait', 'Release Me' (with it's brilliant chord sequences), 'Valley Skies and 'Creeping Thistle'.
The album launches Friday 6th April across many online retailers including amazon, iTunes and napster. Follow him @MarchingDonald and keep up with gigs and his antics also at facebook.com/marchingdonald OR head to marchingdonald.co.uk for a FREE download.