William Ryan Key may be a name that rings a bell somewhere in your mind, and most likely that’s as the frontman of Yellowcard, with whom he rode the wave of pop-punk for nearly two decades, recorded eight albums, and extensively toured the world.
To much regret from fans, the band decided to call it a day back in 2017, though it’s clear that Key is in no way ready to quit making music.
Now walking the path solo, his debut EP ‘Thirteen’ sees Key leave behind the pop-punk scene, and instead capture the personal, sincere, and quite vastly exposed moments of his life over a small collection of acoustic songs.
Plucked lead ‘Old Friends’ eases us gently into the EP’s beginnings, as Key softly narrates a story of regretting younger naivety and past deeds. The track is bare, completely stripped down, and enchantingly beautiful, sounding somewhere between a folk ballad and an acoustic Turnover song.
Following that, ‘Vultures’ lifts up the mood ever so slightly with faster strummed guitars taking the track into summer-feel territory. It’s the kind of track that you can imagine being played on a hot day by a shirtless man with an acoustic guitar… you get the idea.
The presence of spiralling, sugar-sweet feedback guitar oozing in the background of the light acoustics adds an extra emotional element to tracks ‘Form And Figure’ and ‘Thirty Days’. Both are equally simplistic, yet emotionally charged and feel intensely personal, with Key laying bare a lot of himself in the lyricism and tonality of the tracks.
Final track ‘Great Unknown’ sees Key‘s vocals raised slightly higher, as soft strings support the more complex, bright, and springy acoustic guitar. The song feels like it could be an acoustic Yellowcard cut more than any of the other tracks on this record.
Beautifully produced, sonically soft and melodic, ‘Thirteen’ ensures that Key‘s songwriting ability is on full display. If this is just the start of Key‘s solo career, then look forward to what’s to come.