Australian singer-songwriter and producer Ry X takes an intimate genre-bending approach on debut full-length album Dawn. The artist reveals a vulnerable side and an authentic approach to his music — the result of a candid process of self-discovery.

‘Dawn” by Ry X Album Review

The instrumental title track opens with exuberant textures of strings. “Shortline” draws the listener in with the pervasive vocals, gentle and lush over an almost unnoticeable synth melodic line. The track then takes off after the first verse with layered vocals, minimal piano and soft beats that chase each other until the end of the track.

Ry X’s fluid, melancholic vocals can be compared to those of Keaton Henson, James Blake and Justin Vernon. The characteristic stripped back arrangements expose a raw and vulnerable quality of his voice. Thematically, the album matches the tonal quality of the tracks – the atmospheric fragility of Ry X’s voice is in tune with the subjects of love strife and spiritual search.

The lead single “Only” is an intimate track that gradually builds up and soars. The soft guitar starts off with an almost folksy feel, and the piano adds deeply emotional undertones. RY X’s repetitive, echoing vocals have an ethereal quality that is thought-provoking and moving. On tracks like “Deliverance” and “Haste,” it is clear that Ry X is trying out a new formula. These tracks start off slow with the vocals dominating the soundscape and eventually including a plethora of unexpected sounds. Added to the acoustic guitar and slow keys that usually shape the core of most of his songs are more aggressive club-oriented beats as the track lifts off, which gives a new quality to his atmospheric, ethereal sound.

Dawn also features the previously released hits “Howling” and “Berlin,” to which the artist owes most of his popularity prior to his debut full-length release. Both tracks sound just as fresh in their new context and seem to fit right in with the rest of the album’s content.

Ry X’s music can hardly be placed in a specific genre category. It is electronic and indie; it is folk and R&B – it exists in a category that is distinctly its own and continuously pushes its own boundaries. Ultimately, Dawn is a goosebump-inducing album with a lot to offer in terms of ingenuity and vocal clarity. It is quite possibly the best debut of the year so far.

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