Ryan Webb has been producing guitar driven rock for a relatively short time but he has quickly reached the pinnacle of many artist’s careers with the release of his first album ‘Stop the World!’. Released on the 9th June 2018, Webb has created an album of 9 passionate, well crafted tracks that feature both his accomplished guitar work and his significant vocal talent.
Webb cites his influences among such greats as Satriani and Knopfler and he has been compared with the much respected Matt Bellamy of Muse. These influences flow like gold through this mature album where the subject matter is often dark, yet delivered with a positive feel in style and substance. Webb is diverse as a songwriter and this is evident in the structures employed, his rhythmic versatility and above all, his ability to switch guitar tone and attack to suit the desired feel in a song.
Webb has a broad skill base musically but he is careful to not showboat either on guitar or singing. His natural talent for knowing what fits and when, makes for an attention-grabbing album from first track to last.
Opening track ‘Insomnia’ employs a wonderfully rich guitar intro that creates the canvas for a picture painted about the hours spent trying to sleep. Choosing this subject for a first track raised a question about whether it would plant a flag to hook me as a listener. This question was answered by Webb capturing the frustration of such a situation with solid jarring riffs and a stuttering drum track. The song is powerful and passionate - something the whole album features. This track is given extra shimmer by a wonderfully anxious sounding bridge and solo.
‘Runaway’ employs the bass platform that Webb favours later in the album - allowing the guitar and vocals space to work unrestricted by the need to be hooked in. This approach captures that haunting, relaxed feel that many of the tracks achieve so well.
Title track ‘Stop the World!’ is an energetic track that could easily attract the ears of the Gallacher brothers - such is the structure and vocal style of smoothing the lyrics when sung. Oasis would never have chosen such a bold guitar riff however and that picked melodic part carries the song and injects a positive feel to the whole package. The track may well remind the listener of the dysfunctional brothers but it is a gloriously catchy track that evidences Webb’s ability to write radio-friendly material.
‘My Religion’ is a haunting track with Ryan working in his low vocal register that instantly reminds of Canadian band Crash Test Dummies’ Brad Roberts. The bass-baritone vocal approach is a rare talent and is all the more special when Webb switches up as the song grows.
‘Lucky Ones’ is the stand out track for this listener with a foot-stomping verse that changes gear for the bombastic chorus where Webb’s vocal talent shines through. His guitar solo is furious for a few finger-tappingly amazing bars before morphing into a slower ballad like delivery. The track is well constructed and never stays constant, ensuring the listener is kept interested.
‘In a Day or Two’ is upbeat with loose guitars creating a dynamic sound that sees Webb using bass and drum break downs to create sonic highs and lows in the structure. The vocals are strong again with impressive range and I was sure I was reminded of Midge Ure at one point? Moving into ‘Before I Die' - the track has a wonderful chilled groove with a flowing bass line that underpins the picked guitar part and lower register vocals. Webb lifts the vocals subtly through the song’s chorus but not at the expense of the atmospheric feel of the track.
The cool vibe flows well into ‘Guilty’ where the guitars open up and a nostalgic ‘90s Britpop thread is sewn through the song. The lyrics narrate a melancholic subject matter but are delivered with a contrasting positivity in the music. It’s in this track we hear Webb again opening up on guitar - evidencing his clear ability to play across a range of styles. I did wonder how difficult it was for him to avoid the urge to play massive rock solos on the album - instead being intelligent in identifying when they are appropriate.
Closing track ‘Immortal’ builds on the foundations of the album with an almost spiritual vocal delivery that floats across the surface of progressive guitar work and staccato drumming. This is an entirely original track that asks questions at every turn and is a solid end to a successful album.
The final words on this album has to comment on the versatility of Webb and how that has been translated into the tracks featured. Webb has talent by the truckload and his influences pull him in several directions but his sheer ability to play across styles is worthy of sincere praise.
Many artists will follow the safe route and play a single style or genre to capture a neatly packaged fan base that will inevitably lead to live bookings and album sales. Webb has blurred the lines however, and produced an album that will appeal to more than just rock fans. It’s a fair comment that this may confuse purists and genre-junkies but the breadth of styles on the album should be celebrated. Who wants to listen to the same old thing track after track anyway? Not me.
You can check Ryan Webb out at -
You can get your hands on the new album ‘Stop the World!’ at -
Stop the World
Ina Day or Two
Before I Die