The latest album from The Ram, titled “Songs of Wanderlust,” comprises a selection of songs that harken back to his earliest songwriting compositions until now, telling stories of relationships, love, existence, adventure, and friendship. The 10-song, 55 minutes record is a musical journey and showcases the immense artistic talent of The Ram.
The Ram considers himself a gear-head and prioritizes songwriting over production. He says “My normal process is music first, with at least a single verse and a chorus, and track vocals at the end. [I] often skat over the chord changes to establish the lyrics and melody.” His songwriting comes from his soul, and so does his musical performance. That is clear on this record, that takes many authentic shifts and turns. He sings and plays what he feels, which adds an incredible amount of realness and value to his record.
The record starts off strong with “Motor Kine.” Listeners will immediately find themselves in the world of blues, country, and folk. Tucked back vocals allow the guitar riffs to do most of the talking. Lead guitar riffs and distorted rhythm grooves take center stage. The song contains a couple breakdown sections that shifts into the world of psychedelic, taking the listener for a ride, before picking up again. The vocals become more soulful throughout the track, echoing emotion while playing off the bluesy guitar leads. The Ram highly credits his friend Lee Knight for Motor Kine. He says, “Lee was a great singer. As such, he took special care in combing through the stems like a neurosurgeon, he shed light on my recorded voice in a way that allowed me to come to terms and understand the tools I had to work with. Up until then, I hated hearing my voice in recordings. We discussed letting my vocal mistakes be there for all to see (and hear), warts and all. It takes a lot of work to produce natural sounding vocals from a performance, I saw him at work.”
After “Motor Kine” we hear a shift from blues to jazz. “Do It Right” is complete with an acoustic bass, a jazzy drum swing, and deep vocals. The Ram speaks about ditching the click track and settling into the naturally played groove of the drums. This method allows more soul in the music, giving it more feel, which often resonates deeper with the listener’s emotions. The Ram says, “If a groove works, there’s no need for a click track. Number one rule in music, there are no rules.” Throwing away the rigid rules of the modern music industry, was key to making an excellent record.
This song blends in perfectly to “It’s a Saturday Night.” This song has more of a rock n’ roll vibe while combining the jazz and blues genre elements of the first two tracks. More psychedelic elements could also be heard. Vocally, this song is a very strong performance. There is a rawness to the vocal that hooks the listener in. The melody is feel-good and pulls the listener in even further.
A funky shift happens for “New Day Dawn.” The Ram shows us another side of his artistry and his ability to sing across several genres and sound confident and talented. A gospel style organ seduces the listener on this track, it’s effortlessly played by Mike Pritchard. The Ram gives major credit to Mike, saying, “I may have written these songs, but Mike give the songs life. “New Day Dawn” is entirely dedicated to Mike’s mastery on the keys, he’s completely unpredictable with a jazz feel, “Ragtop Car” is a continuation of that fun. I love playing with him, he keeps all of our ears sharp.”
“Cut Loose” showcases the depth in The Ram’s vocal while taking on a slower pace and more soulful feel than the previous tracks. This song sounds much like 70s classic rock. There is a sense of peacefulness across this track. “Ragtop Car” is my personal favorite track on the record for both it’s instrumentation and performance. The vocals will cut deep into your soul, seducing you into fandom of The Ram. The finale track is “Outside the City”, this song is a slow ballad that has a romantic energy to it. The gorgeous guitars are worth remembering. Track 8 is an alternative take of track 2 “Do It Right”. Tracks 9 and 10 are extended play version of “New Day Dawn” and “Ragtop Car.”
Quotes were provided by The Ram via Substack. There are many more quotes to explore there, including notes on the entire recording process of the record.
Enjoy the record on Spotify now:
Written by Ryan Cassata