Material: There’s such symmetry in the way Ryan Rawlings sings a sad song at a live show. The blue acoustic guitar that he strums is symbolic of the mood that he sets as he looks down at the ground and howls the introspective lyrics to indie-folk songs like “Isolation” and “With All My Might.” The stories behind the music from his debut album (Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere) run so deep that you would think he has lived an entire lifetime already. And in a way, he has. As a teenager, Ryan Rawlings was the charismatic lead singer of two heavy metal bands. But as the decade passed, he slowly evolved into a folk singer and decided to go solo under a new stage moniker, The Occasional Moonlight.
Musicianship: Many of the compositions written by this artist are contemplative tracks about heartbreak and love. His songs are a mixture of Indie-folk, blues-rock, folk-rock, neofolk and Americana music. In that regard, his songwriting is comparable to bands like The Lumineers. Nevertheless, The Occasional Moonlight’s best attribute during live shows is his vocal range. The Maryland native highlights that notion quite well when he sings in his falsetto during the performance of a folk-pop track called “Love Song.”
Performance: The artist sat on an old wooden chair as he sang eight songs in the venue’s back room. This was very appropriate for an acoustic set with such personable lyrical content. He sang softly throughout the duration of his show but occasionally belted out the high notes. Such was the case during his cover of a Jason Isbell track called “Elephant.” With every song that Rawlings played, it seemed as if he were revealing a very delicate layer of his personal life experiences.
Summary: The Occasional Moonlight obliged his onlookers with an encore by saying: “This is a sweeter song, but it also ends in death.” That sentence could easily be the name of his next album. Because it was funny, deep and very serious all in one breathe. In the future, it would be nice to see him sing a duet or two with a female collaborator, a component that would bring a whole new dimension to his songs.
Players: Ryan Rawlings, vocals, acoustic guitar