Ryan Jarvis’s debut EP Outside This Town demonstrates a song-writing ability beyond his eighteen years and the potential to follow in the long line of great Mancunian songwriters that tell of life and love in a Northern town.
First track Shy Away starts with a bold, brash acoustic guitar which forms the basis for the song about a girl who was “top of the class, now she’s flat on her arse, she’s got nothing left to shout about”, lost in her shyness and mourning for her first love. It feels like he’s singing it directly at the girl in question, such is the intimacy he creates.
Title track Outside This Town paints a picture of love blossoming and shining through urban decay where “the shops are takeaways and abandoned pubs” and viewing life from the “dirty abandoned high-rise”. He turns the picture of desolation around with the key line “darling, we’ve got each other, that’s all that matters in the world”. It’s one of those gritty, acoustic songs that hundreds of budding Mancunian singer-songwriters have produced to ape the Gallagher and Fray blueprints for such songs, but Ryan manages to swerve the identikit nature of the majority of them.
Shine For Me is a simple song about escape. It talks of running away to a different town to get away from some unspecified problem and the difficulties in doing so “taking on the world hand in hand”, but comes back to the chorus of “the sun shines for you and me, angel”.
Final track Thought Of You, talks of loss of “a smile so bright it beats the sun” that he can’t shake out of his head. It feels like it’s a story everyone can relate to from some point in their life, and it’s that insight that makes Ryan’s lyrics so personal to the listener.
The EP, whilst not the finished article, showcases a new young talent who is one to look out for over the next few months when he releases his follow-up EP. It’s rare to hear a songwriting craft so well developed so early in a career, the trick will be to develop into something that draws in a bigger audience and keeps him from being labeled with the jobbing acoustic singer-songwriters on the circuit. He’s made the best possible start.
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here