The Return of Marching Donald

It seems ages since I last featured the musical talents of Marching Donald aka Ryan Davies. After featuring his debut album back in 2012 (read the review HERE) he has gone a little quiet on his solo material, as he has been busy with other music projects. Well, Ryan is back with his new album ‘Sometimes the Breeze’ and its good, REALLY GOOD!

Before I talk about the new album, I had the chance to speak to Ryan about his music, his influences and much more. This is what he had to say:

Who or what inspired you to become a musician and which artists/bands have helped to shape your sound?

I’d love to say I heard this rare B side from Edwin Starr or something but truth is it’s really cliché: I remember hearing Eric Clapton play Layla and it was like nothing I’d heard when I was younger. After that I just spent forever trying to learn it. I started learning music by playing my old Granddads guitar. I brought it down from the loft and gave it a bash. His name was Donald and he used to play in a marching band.

For the sound of this album it’s a real mixture. I really love The Sound Of Silence album by Simon & Garfunkel – The haunting space is something I really wanted to capture, particularly on the title track “Sometime The Breeze”. But then there’s also a bit of inspiration from Tom Petty and the Damn The Torpedoes album, particularly on the song “Brother” and “Cast In  Bronze” where I wanted a panoramic guitar sound. The album, Shallow Grave by The Tallest Man On Earth was the one that really got me thinking about recording this album from home – The microphones sound like they’re covered in sandpaper and it’s great.

This album has a much different and improved feel than your debut album. What was the reason for this change?

Thanks! I guess I had more control over this album. Well, complete control. I probably have just a little more knowledge than a novice but I’m no expert in recording techniques or mixing at all. I just used my ears and listened to what those records mentioned above were doing. It took a lot of time, a lot of trial and error and a lot of coffee, but hopefully it was worth it.

It was recorded in my little flat and so time wasn’t really a concern either. If I felt a song needed another section I stopped and started again later. I don’t know if that way of recording works for all musicians – sometimes the limited time you get in a studio gives the pressure you might need to deliver a good take. But when you’ve got easy access to bacon sandwiches from a bakers next door, well…

What is your favourite song from the new album and why?

I like Cast In Bronze just for the sake of it being 6 minutes long and having sections with different tempos. The final instrumental section is what I probably enjoy most, as I remember hearing how all the parts should have sounded in my head, but then being able to get that  eventually coming out of the speakers was a great feeling.

Is there anyone you’d like to write a song or collaborate with?

Yea, the real Donald. Except he kicked the bucket years ago!

What are your future plans and goals for your music?

It’s such a good feeling when someone listens to your music or comes up to you and asks to buy an album. If that feeling continues I’ll be happy. Actually, I’ve got one goal silly goal: I’d like to get one blob on that popularity bar on Spotify. Just one. If I get two then I’ve sold out!

I have been writing my blog for a while now and I love hearing how musicians grow and their sound evolves. Ryan’s debut release has a good sound but it is rough around the edges and at times the sound quality does not show off Ryan’s talent. His new album is a totally different story and it has blown my mind as it sounds amazing, I think its leap frogged a few stages of the music evolutionary ladder. What Ryan has created with ‘Sometimes the Breeze’ is an album that is soaked in folk/Americana with an old soul. It definitely feels like he has taken notes from his influences to create this new sound. I am not sure what has happened between albums but I approve of the musical journey Ryan has made to create this new album.

There has been so many improvements including his arrangement and production skills which results in a wonderful listening experience. For me, I have found his biggest improvement has been with his vocal and lyrical ability. Let’s talk about his vocals first of all, I am not sure if it is the new production value of his music, but his voice feels more controlled and more importantly it feels more ‘confident’. He also delivers more emotion with his voice which can be heard on the stand out tracks ‘Don’t ever Leave’ and the title track ‘Sometimes the Breeze’. Musically, Ryan has always sounded impressive with his guitar skills, but they do sound a little stronger and I really like his use of the harmonica in a few of the songs. Regular readers will know I do like the sound of the harmonica!

The element of his music that has impressed me the most is his lyrical skills. Each song on this album takes you on a journey that is delivered with wonderful story telling. A great example of this can be heard on my favourite song called ‘Stone Shadow’. This song delivers a subtle musical arrangement which gives Ryan the opportunity to deliver his lyrics with a captivating vocal tone. I like how the lyrics on this song evoke imagery. Just listen to the song and enjoy!

‘Sometimes the Breeze’ is a great sounding album that will capture a lot of people’s attention as really shows off Ryan’s impressive song writing talent. The old soul of this album is captivating and when you listen to this album I am sure you will agree. I strongly recommend that you head over to his Bandcamp site (click HERE) to listen to the album in full and grab a copy of it while you are there.

If I’m honest, this album has shown how much an artist can grow, and as a fan, its a great feeling to see musicians that you like develop their sound so much. I am already thirsty to hear more of this new sound from Ryan and I am already waiting in anticipation of his next release. To find out when this will happen you can keep up to date with his music by following him on his social media pages at Facebook and Twitter. You can also find out more at his website at MarchingDonald.co.uk.

For musicians like this to continue to do what they love they need the help of their fans. It is you duty as a fan to support the music that matters to you by purchasing the music and telling the world about it using whatever methods is at your disposal including social media. Hope fully this will include the music of Marching Donald!