Ricky Allson Teaches Life Lessons and Runs With It
Welcome to Songlighting with J.R. Price, in this first edition we will be interviewing Ricky Allson, an up and coming independent artist from New York City, USA. Connecticut born, Allson earned two degrees in both Music and Music Education from Western Connecticut State University and Teachers College Columbia University. With this wonderful knowledge he pursued a career in public music education, gaining experience teaching Middle School band, and Elementary Chorus. He uses this to fuel his dreams and go after his true ambitions as an independent singer/songwriter/ musician/songwriter/ and music producer for other independent recording artists. He has produced many artists from all genres, styles, genders, and ages, such as Brazilian Popstar Cecília, Nightlife legend, drag icon, and blue check mark verified Robyn Banks, GRAMMY nominated songwriter J.R. Price, Body Builder Eric Dean Davis, 4 Time NYC Nightlife Glam Award Winner Jayse Vegas, and many more. But yet, with all of this under his belt he has continued to progress his own music, recently releasing his well received debut EP Life Lessons: Vol 1.
I [J.R. Price] have had the privilege of working in a studio with Ricky Allson, and I have to say the magic he produces in a room is magnetic and powerful. His talent is limitless, he can orchestrate anything you ask of him as a producer, freestyle harmonies, and develop a sound unique to each artist he works with. As a writer, his lyrics tend to carry deep meaning for a wide universal audience. Making him a perfect pop song writer, true to the genre by being a popular and catchy style; and ultimately formatting in his writing.
In his debut EP Life Lessons: Vol 1 (available on all platforms now) he explores relationship setbacks, self empowerment, grieving the loss of a loved one, and more… all while maintaining his natural charisma and charm that reels fans in and draws them to find out the life lessons he is trying to teach us based on his own experiences and tribulations. This creates a deep personal connection with any listener in a vulnerable, yet totally relatable way. Ricky translates as your best friend, your role model, you dream guy; and your lover all in the same musical phrase.
Setting down to listen to Life Lessons: Vol. 1, is no chore to the human ear. It’s very easy listening. The opening track “Take it and Run” (video link HERE ) is a sweet introduction into Ricky’s world. In this song he confronts being cheated on by his lover, and instead of letting it destroy him his uses his inner light to run away to a better life for himself. All this is eloquently depicted in the soundscape, with high energy progressions that mount to a truly ear warmed up hook in the vibrant chorus. This song will make you feel like you are right in Allson’s ear telling him to take it and run. This set up, of knowing that Ricky wants a real commitment is then flipped upside down in the second track as he dives into the single life in “Chess Love Game” a track about the gay dating scene, and who will make the first move. It sure didn’t take Allson a long time to take it and run. The second track on his EP has a lot of Maroon 5 vibes, complete with Adam Levine riffs and melodic structures. However the Ricky twist is, it’s about a gay hookup culture, and approaching it with an open heart and high expectations. This sultry side of Ricky is expressed in the opening line “Your eyes light up, and then I make the first move.” A truly different shade of Allson after the opening line. His sexy crooning makes this track the bop of the album, lots of boys I’m sure can use this for their love magic playlists, as our star explores dating life in a modern day.
Ricky doesn’t seem too hype about the gay hookup culture as we lead into track number 3 Nest For Two, where a beautiful romantic side is showcased, delivering a message of wanting to make a home and family with someone you genuinely connect with. The sing-a-long hook section has everyone singing “Do-do-do-do-do” for the rest of their days, as we all long for love and deeper meaning with those around us. Ricky then gets to show off that music degree as he arranged a beautiful interlude, where he transitions effortlessly between two tracks, chord to chord, and melodic build to jazz overture into the next song Pushing. Pushing (Beautiful Errors Remix Video HERE ) is a slow jazz, r&b song about the “best” falling apart. As we hear Ricky’s partner start pushing away from their relationship. Vulnerability really puts a spotlight on some of Allson’s biggest insecurities as he shouts “You can call me harsh, trash, selfish, crass… try to leave me defeated.” As he quotes his lover during what I would imagine is their personal arguments where we hear Ricky pleading his partner to stay close to the heart. The remix by Beautiful Errors allows you to dance through those allegations and pain, of someone in your love life not living up to expectation. It is giving Robyn: Dancing on My Own, while the EP version is giving Callum Scott. Both of which understand the assignment and succeed.
The album concludes with a very gut wrenching sorrow as Allson shows us even more of his person life and plays a voice message from his late Grandmother. Not leaving a dry eye, as we hear the final track Solitaire. This happens to be my favorite track on the EP. Full of emotion, and love for his matriarch, Ricky has painted a color in pop music we don’t get to hear from indie queer musicians often, grief. He boldly shows a family connection and loss that is both beautiful and hard to listen to. It reminds me of Taylor Swift song Soon You’ll Get Better (ft. The Chicks) as she depicts her mother being sick and hospitalized. The difference in Allson’s track is he actually lost his grandmother, and while yes this song is very deep and sad, it also celebrates her life and shines on her love that is obviously rooted in who Allson has become as an adult, and ultimately an artist. This type of connection is rare in the gay community, and even more rare to hear in gay music. It is refreshing to hear such earnest emotion and integrity in a pop EP.
If I were to give the EP any sort of criticism or judgement, which is really hard, because I can listen to it start to finish five times a day, I really have to dive deep. The musicality is vibrant and impeccable in places. I think his song structure is clean and crisp. I think his vocals are perfectly crafted and delivered as designed. I think the lyrics drive home his “Life Leasons” I think the metaphors are smart, and the topics are original. I think he shows every side of a human emotional being that holds hope for a brighter future and better world. I think it’s important work.
So if I have to give any advice, unwarranted of course, I would have to say, Ricky Allson seems to be holding back on us. I think he plays it too safe. Which is a sign of a really trained artist. He is playing to his strengths in every bar, and it’s beautiful to hear, but I think the error is actually how perfect and packaged it is. I think sometimes it feels as if he is afraid to take risks, or break emotionally into the song, in fear it might not sound “right”. That being said, I think if my biggest critique is that you sound too perfect, then you are definitely doing something right. I think that everyone should definitely listen to this EP to hear some surprising choices from a Queer talent. I am so honored I got to interview this amazing musician, let’s read his answers to my hard hitting questions about songwriting and his journey!
J.R.: What are your songwriting influences and inspirations?
Ricky: Ok wow! So there’s a lot… because the span of music I enjoy is vast. So we are first introduced to our influences and inspiration based on what our families listen to and my family listen to a lot of the carpenters Fleetwood Mac KD Lang the Eagles Chicago but I also grew up with Y2K Pop and lots of R&B and hip-hop so other influences range from Backstreet Boys to Jay-Z, Ludacris, Missy Elliott, P!nk, Maroon 5. Most recent inspiration comes from Coldplay Walk the Moon Kacey Musgraves and Lauv. So like. A lot.
J.R.: What about those specific writers or songs move you?
Ricky: I think what I captured from all of these writers is their ability to pull you in. it’s not just about the writing of lyrics per se… it includes chord progression and production styles as well. It’s like they all understand that the lyrics chosen can match choices made within the instrumentation of the song and each word it has the power to view when combined with intelligent music making.
J.R.: If you could have written any song that already exists, what song would it be and why?
Ricky: Really? You’re gonna make me choose one ha ha. Because of that I’ll choose two… The first is surrender by WALK THE MOON and the second is Fix You by Coldplay. These are my total vibe right now and always. So just go listen to them.
J.R.: What is your favorite lyric moment that you have written? What inspired it?
Ricky: I play a fine line between cheesy and genius. So whenever I can find a play on words that hits in a super fun way, I am ecstatic. Like in my song “Chess Love Game” I have the line: “And just when I though that you had checked out you came to sweep me off my shoes.”
J.R.: My favorite lyric from what you have released thus far is:
Has me Falling faster
Losing you taught me life isn’t fair
I feel lost without you
Playing cards without you
Curse this game of solitaire”
– Solitaire, Ricky Allson, Life Lessons Vol. 1
J.R.: What does this mean to you, and what do you want your fans to know about this song?
Ricky: Oof. This song has a special place in my heart. I mean. Its tattooed to my skin. This song is about my grandmother, but in my grandfather’s point of view after she had passed away. While she was still with us he devoted every waking moment to taking care of her to the point that he wasn’t taking care of himself. So this is the lyrical version of that.
I.R.: What is your writing process? Where do the songs come from? How are they brought to life?
Ricky: My writing process is never the same. More often than not it begins with lyrics based on a close friends life stories or my own, but sometimes I think of a bass line in the shower and just go with the flow. Once I am sitting in the studio though, I try my best to have two different work flows of “create” and “edit.”
J.R.: What is your biggest obstacle in bringing your songs to life?
Ricky: Being a perfectionist. Hands down. It can be tough to know where to draw the line and say that the song has reached its full potential.
J.R.: What is your biggest hope for your music? Why do you write songs? What does it mean to you personally to continue this artistry?
Ricky: Honestly, I think the answer to this is constantly growing. This comes from my background as a music teacher in public schools and is why I named my first EP Life Lessons Vol. I. There will always be more lessons… always ways to connect with people… and show the differences between us make us more connected.
J.R.: If you couldn’t write or listen to music for 1 year, what would you do? Would you find other passions? Would you isolate and recoil? What would you do without music for one year?
Ricky: Hmmm…. There was a part of me that was intrigued in cultural anthropology? I almost took a year abroad to study this passion in college, but chickened out. But I am always open-eared to learn more about another person’s life and upbringing. But without music for a year? The easy answer is I would die. The hard answer is I would die a slow…painful…silent death.
J.R.: Despite your influences, how would your best friends describe your music?
Ricky: I hear mixes of Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, Jonas Brothers, Usher, Ed Sheeran (I think its the red hair…but I’ll take it anyway), and Lauv, and Coldplay. So I guess I hit it on the mark!
J.R.: Here is the greatest debate among all songwriters, are you ready? Lyrics or melody first? Why?
Ricky: WHY DO I HAVE TO CHOOSE!!!!!!!!!!! It’s like the chicken or the egg. Don’t question. What you see first is what comes first.
J.R.: When did you start writing, and did it come naturally or was it a decision you made and worked hard to achieve?
Ricky: I started taking writing seriously in 2018. It came very naturally after a 2nd intense restart of my life. This was when I was finally starting to recognize my identity and stopped putting my own needs to the side. I was always the giver and put myself on the sideline. I actually used that in an early song that I wrote: “Sitting on the sideline, watching as the world spins around. They say life isn’t easy, as if I haven’t found out.”
J.R.: What is your latest release? Where can we listen to it?
Ricky: My latest release is my first EP, Life Lessons Vol. I, available on all streaming platforms and available to download as well.
J.R.: What are you working on next? Any spoilers? I won’t tell!
Ricky: I have a new single to be released early August! So stay posted. It’s a summer bop. It’s about sex and how I want it but I don’t but I do. But shh! Don’t tell.
J.R.: Where can we follow you?
Ricky: You can follow me on everything by searching Ricky Allson. That’s ALLSON. Two L’s. Come join me for the ride y’all.
*Spoiler Alert* Despite me promising not to say anything, I am definitely giving you the inside scoop! Ricky Allson will be debuting his new single “The Come Up” at Rebar in Chelsea, NYC on August 4th. The track will be released to all platforms for all audiences to hear on August 5th. I had the honor to hear the track pre-release, and it’s an anthem for us all. This bop will catapult us all into a come up, as we navigate coming out of the darkness and looking for a brighter day. I think we are all hoping for a come up after the last few years of isolation, loss, and heart ache. This anthem delivers the vibes we are seeking and craving in all of this chaos. I am very excited for you to hear it and the world to be inspired further by our favorite red head.
This concludes my interview with independent musician Ricky Allson. I hope you follow Ricky’s music and socials and continue to keep tabs on Rock the Pigeon: Songlighting with J.R. Price as I discover more indie artists and discuss their songwriting process and put a spotlight on their works as a creative outlet for more independent work. I hope in a world full of Nightmares, you be a Daydream! I love you!