Dave Suggests: Take a listen to Ryan Pollie's album 'Stars'

Posted by Dave Bartlett on

Artist: Ryan Pollie   


Album: ‘Stars’

One of the best parts of my job at Trusty Spot Records & Tees is recommending artists and records to customers they might not know about. It’s amazing how many great records exist in the world that simply aren’t heard by enough people. I’ve always been thrilled to hear new records, and I’m constantly on the hunt to give my ears something they haven’t experienced yet. So, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite finds on our site. Keep in mind I’m not a music reviewer. I’m a guy in a record store, but hopefully you read something I write and find a new record that you love.

Let’s get on with it shall we?

Today we’re going to talk about Los Angeles based musician Ryan Pollie (follow his Instagram here) and his 2021 release ‘Stars’ (here is the album's bandcamp page).

‘Stars’ is playing as I write this and has been heavy in my rotation lately. I love Pollie’s ability to write music that varies stylistically (sometimes drastically) between tracks but is still somehow recognizable as the same artist. To me that’s always a mark of originality and true songwriting ability.  

The actual sound of this record is excellent. The mix is amazing; especially considering the number of different instruments that show up - including bassoons, trumpets, and harps (which are all used very well). Somehow each song is crisp and clear even though there’s a lot happening. It never seems clunky or overdone and the songs have lots of open space to breathe. You hear it all.

I need to mention the guitar tones on this record. They remind me of sounds you’d hear in the 70’s from guys like Marc Bolan in T. Rex. Which is extra cool when Pollie combines that kind of tone with the other instruments. Even the clean tones are somehow thick and shine through the mix incredibly well.  

But now comes the real reason for writing this piece.

Obviously, I love music, but what I really love is music that moves me.

Ryan has the gift of combining music that evokes strong emotion with thoughtful lyrics providing deep imagery. That equation leads to a more profound experience for the listener (translation: it moves me).

His voice is clear and comes across as humble and sweet. You want to root for him because of it. There is an every-man quality to his voice that makes you feel like he is all of us and he is one of us.  

Let’s go track by track and I’ll share a few thoughts:

  1. The Shore House: Beautiful album opener that talks about how real life interferes with raising kids. We plan for simplicity and beauty, but the trappings of the world inevitably end up foiling our plans. “I thought I’d raise them on the beach. The tide could sing them songs. I’d keep the hard things out of reach. I’d feel like I belong.” Piano driven, but with horns, whistles, guitars and all kinds of cool things happening. As a dad this one really resonates with me.


  1. On The Nose: This song will be candy to the ears of any Deadhead on Earth. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. It’s super fun and it makes me want to have my windows rolled down while driving on a road trip with my idiot friends.


  1. Harriton House: So much is happening here. A beautiful vocal melody contrasted with music that seems like it would be right at home on a Beatles record, but then somehow morphs into something you might hear in an old timey saloon while chatting up the local working girl. So good and so different.


  1. Out Of It: An adorable bouncy love song that includes excellent guitar work with that 70’s tone I can’t seem to get enough of in my life. Very experimental with interesting starts and stops and just cool as hell. “I wrote a song just to feel proud of it. I swear to God I’m working hard. I see her face and snap right out of it. Must mean I like her like a lot.” *Bonus: look for this video on YouTube to see Ryan performing a duet with a puppet.


  1. Don’t Lie: Oh man, ever been in a relationship? Ever been in one that’s not going so hot? Welp, here it is in song form and it’s a heartbreaker. Acoustically driven and poignant. Ryan’s lyricism shines by taking the everyday moments of life and using them to paint a picture of what’s really going on. “I stay in the bedroom feeding the fishes. I’ll try to tiptoe around you. The silencing dishes, they dry. I want you to like me. Reminds me of grade school.” Ugh - my guts.


  1. Best Love I Ever Had: On the heels of ‘Don’t Lie’ our tears dry up with this super sweet song about finding your person, picking out the biggest ring you’ve ever seen, and popping the question. This song is headed for a million playlists that will be shared with a million crushes. “I was thinking about the end of my life, and if she’s gonna be my wife. Til the end.”


  1. Spine: One of the most thoughtful songs I’ve heard in a long time. Moments of self-reflection along with reminiscing about moments in life that Ryan can “feel in my spine”. We all carry things with us in our own way. “Am I wind in a fire, making things worse with unconscious desire?” ‘Spine’ even touches on faith; “Turn my water to wine, without you Jesus I’m doing just fine, but if you’re there could you drop me a line?” This song hits me hard.


  1. Steal Away: A seemingly simple message - or is it? The repeating lyric “Steal away - I want to go home” could just be Ryan saying he wants to sneak away from wherever he is and go home, but it gave me a feeling of being nostalgic for a place I don’t know. There’s a German word for it: ‘fernweh’. It loosely translates in English to wanderlust, but it’s meaning is much deeper. It relates more to longing for something your heart tells you is out there, but it’s somewhere far away that you’ve never been or even seen. *Bonus – you can briefly hear what I’m assuming is Ryan’s cat meow at the end of this track.


  1. The Thing: Excuse my language, but holy shit this song. Slower tempo and as powerful as anything out there. Incredible instrumentation on all fronts. The repeated lyric “I know it's right or wrong” along with the background vocal is haunting. This song makes you feel like you’re on the edge of something awesome and just beginning to catch a glimpse of it. (Oh, by the way, this song is stoner paradise.)


  1. Market: “I've got more room to breathe, the moon is in the market. I've got more things to see. The city when it's wet. I've got no right to be ashamed of all the sad things. I've got her telling me that feelings never end.” There is a story in this song that has an overwhelming level of heartache. It reminds us that being alive brings all the moments – great and horrible, and truly - nothing gold can stay.

If you came in the shop and asked me what genre ‘Stars’ falls under, I’d probably just lamely mumble ‘kinda indie-ish’ – solely to protect you from my own long-winded attempt at explaining what I think of his music. The reality is Ryan Pollie is an amalgamation of genres: indie, psych, pop, folk, rock, prog, avant-garde, all of it – and that’s because Pollie is a true songwriter who knows how to use his gifts.

Musicians like Ryan Pollie deserve to be heard.

Follow Ryan @ Instagram & grab a copy of 'Stars' through his bandcamp here.

We also have copies of 'Stars' here in the shop - pick one up today!

Thanks for reading,


Trusty Spot Records & Tees


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