Repressed Records loves having the last word on the year that was, so while we’re not rolling out our Best Of 2023 propaganda until later in January, I’d like to highlight my clear favourite album of 2023, Ryan Davis & The Roadhouse Band - Dancing On The Edge.
I didn’t expect to be as taken by Ryan’s “long winded emotional faux-country drum machine music” (his own description) as I am, and it took a few listens for his warm and funny universe of song and sound to start revealing itself.
The quick sales rep pitch would reach for the David Berman’s endorsement of Davis as the “best lyricist who’s not a rapper going”, and maybe draw comparison to him or John Prine. But me, I felt the presence of two records that have a very specific effect on me, qualities that I cannot describe but I’m always looking for.
Those records are Jim O’Rourke - Insignificance (Drag City, 2001) and “Blue” Gene Tyranny - Out Of The Blue (Lovely Music, Ltd, 1978). Two records that kind of exist in opposition lyrically, O’Rourke’s biting negativity versus Tyranny’s buoyant friendliness, but both intermingle “new music” experimentation into popular music, more specifically Adult Orientated Rock.
Like these two records, Dancing On The Edge is not bogged down by self conscious signifiers of outsider artistry, nor does it shy away from adventurousness. In fact maybe the difference between his debut solo album and State Champion is the subtle integration of progressive/electronic aspects from his time playing in Equipment Pointed Ankh and Roadhouse.
I don’t know or care if Dancing On The Edge signifies anything for culture at large, but it’s surely my most enjoyed and biggest musical epiphany of 2023! - Nic