So at the end of 2016, I got to see Yellowcard at 02 Shepherds Bush Empire in London for the first and final time and it was one of the best gigs of that year. I was sad to hear I wouldn’t hear any more music from them again, so I was excited to hear when the former frontman William Ryan Key was going to release solo material in the shape of an EP called Thirteen.
With him looking into doing stuff like songwriting, producing, and film scores, among other things, it is an exciting time for Ryan at the moment. As this is his first solo outing, I really enjoy this EP along with it having a lot of Yellowcard elements in the music but still having something new to it.
The EP is packed with a lot of beautiful synths, as well as slow guitar arrangements from Ryan, added with lyrics that come across as looking back to the past and looking forward to the future. I didn’t think I would love this EP as much as I did, and I think you will enjoy William Ryan Key’s first solo EP as well.
We start with “Old Friends” which is a beautiful little ballad about William looking back at his past of all the things that he has done. However, this is nothing new, with him looking at this in the last Yellowcard album with the song “Rest In Peace”.
The whole vibe and feeling of this song really give a dark by hopeful feel with the nice synths setting the mood and really great playing by Ryan to put it all together, it is a really great opener.
We get a straight up strumming acoustic track with “Vultures” which is a fun folky style song that I can see being a big hit with all the Yellowcard fans like myself. I really like Ryan’s voice yet again with it driving the whole song and the chorus line, “You’re just making up for what you never got, Is it better to have had than or to have not“, I can really relate too.
“Form And Figure” is by far my favourite song of the EP, it still features the chord strumming that the previous song had, but with this track, it works better.
With the chord progression and the way Ryan is playing, it really brings out the best of the vocals and what he is trying to say – which I think is about breaking up with someone, or in Ryan’s case the band, or the loss of a close friend in his life. With the synths, once again, pushing the emotion of this track really well, that’s why it is the stand out track for me.
“Thirty Days” is a really well put together song with more of the same in terms of song layout, but I like the picky melody that goes with the track. Also, Ryan’s really thoughtful lyrics do touch on the way we change over time and if you met someone that hasn’t seen you for years, how would they perceive you now.
This comes across in the lyrics, “If you see me, I swear you won’t believe, these years have worn on me“, which we all think about when we get older and in this song, it really pushes that home.
We end the EP with “Great Unknown” which is a really beautiful song, with which Ryan offers some final thoughts on starting over and trying something new. This has been the theme of the whole EP but I think he really puts it across well on this song and with the right title to boot.
The lyrics are the highlight of this EP but it has the best line within this chorus, “it’s funny how time doesn’t mind, Who we keep and who we bear to leave behind, So into this great unknown, I will wander on my own“. It highlights Ryan’s look to the future with hope and fear at the same time. The guitar melody again puts the whole thing together in a really lovely end to a well put together EP.
Overall, I didn’t know what to expect when listening to this EP but I really enjoyed it and considering this is Ryan Key’s first solo outing, I’m really excited for what project he releases next. With well-crafted guitar parts, moving lyrics and Ryan’s vocal putting it all together, I really think you should check this EP out, it may make your day like it did for me. My Favourite tracks are “Form And Figure”, “Thirty Days” and “Great Unknown”.
Purchase William Ryan Key’s Thirteen EP on iTunes here, and stream it below.
Words by Stuart Irvine