Have you ever had that situation come up where your lover disappears and there’s a blood red stain on the carpet next to your bed? Well Ryan Rahhal (or at least the character he portrays in “Sutures”) has. And he’s going to tell you about it in an extremely radio-friendly love ballad about repairing a relationship.
Rahhal has a wealth of experience from days living in Philly and Nashville to draw on, and he’ll often turn to alt-folk or head to the 20th-century US poetry well for inspiration. Certainly Maroon Five comparisons are unescapable for this musician who returned home to Oklahoma City to follow his passion. And there are certainly some stand-out elements in “Sutures”.
We're thinking of the starkness of the acoustic guitar, the blurry fret slides and, of course, the bloody imagery. This includes one that caused us to think about how we just learned there are giant, terrifying snakes in the Los Angeles canyons — something we only learned yesterday.
Basically, what we're saying is, given the careful structure, the Adam Levine-esque vocals and the killer use of strings, there’s something for everyone in this track. Paint within the lines and you might just succeed. It’s a pretty song for a pretty person, no doubt.
Listen to "Sutures" here, and learn more about Ryan Rahhal in our interview below!
Was it hard leaving the worlds of Philly and Nashville behind for your old stomping grounds? Or was there a joy in it?
Yes, to both. There was certainly some angst in having to uproot and move again, as I’ve been doing a lot of that over the past four or five years. The decision to get off one path and onto another one is a difficult one to make, and it’s come with its tough moments. But overall it has been really positive. I had been wanting to come home for a while. Pouring into old friendships and new ones, spending time with my family, and engaging with the local art and music scene in my own community has been really rewarding.
How long have you been singing for?
I’ve been writing songs since I started playing guitar as a teenager. I was never in choir or anything. I’m not a trained singer. My musical interests were mostly instrumental when I was growing up. I didn’t start feeling really confident in my voice till I started playing in a band in college, when I started to embrace the more unique and unorthodox elements of my singing voice. So it was nice that when I started seriously writing again some years after that, I felt like I knew who I was as a singer.
"Sutures" is a pretty universal song, but it seems like it's based on some pretty heart-wrenching experiences. What were you going for with this number?
Yeah I guess it would be pretty obvious to say that it is a song about grief and loss, huh? But yeah, that’s what it is. It’s a song about not feeling like you know who you are, and looking back on all the painful and unhealthy ways you’ve tried to figure it out. There was a lot of physical and emotional movement going on when I wrote that song, and there is a kind of displacement and disorientation that comes with that. I think that’s what’s going on in Sutures.
Do you have to do vocal exercises to prepare before gigs?
Eh, not really. I just yell into the mic and hope for the best.
How do you make sure your songs stand out in the pop music world where there is so much competition?
I like sharing my music and hope people will hear and enjoy my songs, but I don’t really have one trick or method that I follow to make that happen. It’s taken me a while to get to this place, but I really try not to think about music and songwriting in terms of competition. If I start thinking about it that way, I start to feel a little crippled. I want to be able to take joy in good songs that other independent artists write, rather than feel threatened by them every time they play a better show than me or get more streams, or whatever else it may be. I’m at the point now where I really just want to be supportive of other artists, and to be in a position to write songs for the inherent reward that comes in doing that.
How important is it to write songs for yourself versus keeping your fans in mind?
When I first started writing songs, there really wasn’t a thought in the world as to who might hear it. It was just something I liked doing that I thought I was decently good at. Obviously once you start toying with the idea of making a record, you start to make allowances based on the (imaginary at that juncture) people who might hear it. So yeah, there were definitely times in the studio when those thoughts or discussions would come up. Really though, as I continue to write, I feel more and more convinced that the more you write based on your perception of what this or that demographic wants or needs to hear, the more often you’re going to miss it. I think the more authentic you are in your writing, the more people are going to resonate with it anyway. So I tend to err on that side of things, both in this particular song and on the rest of Color My Bones.
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