Three years after his debut album Dawn (2016) was unleashed onto the world, Australian born, LA-based RY X is back with a second serving of his unique brand of alternative folk. Unfurl (2019), as the name proposes, represents the growth of RY X since Dawn. It is the emergence of subtle new musical directions and the upsurge of understated confidence whilst maintaining a vulnerability that is evident via the lyrical content.
Opening with the instrumental Body, a prelude with strings and minimalist piano, one is immediately transported into RY X’s emotive world. For the next fifty minutes, we traverse through sensitive and, at times, ethereal vocals, delicate electronics and musical layering that progressively builds in intensity.
Untold flows on from Body conveying an underwater serenity overlayed by soft vocals. Bound, reminiscent of an early Bon Iver sound, is a stepping stone for RY X into cross-genre experimentation and a successful one at that. Body Sun’s vocal repetition enmeshes effortlessly with intricate musical layering to create a five-minute aural sensation, while YaYaYa is lyrically representative of RY X’s candid vulnerability. Coven conveys a deeper, duskier sound with hints of electronica. It is paralleled with the emotive melancholic intensity of Hounds despite it being musically contrary.
Foreign Tides successfully raises the ambience with its catchy melody while retaining the soulful emotion that is laced through the album whereas The Water takes you on a powerful four-minute journey that is allusively simple with its minimalist lyrics but guaranteed to give you goosebumps and leave a lasting impression. Mallorca shines with its melancholy and To Know pulls you in with its melodic storytelling before a second instrumental, Sun – Ambient, lights the way to the stunning conclusion that is Fumbling Prayer, a touchingly angelic and sensitive piece.
Unfurl is a slow burner that nurtures untapped or veiled emotions with each play and is best listened to in its entirety to capture its full intent. It is an absolute stunner and highlights the personal and professional growth of an artist Australia should feel proud to call their own.
Album Review By Anita Kertes