William Ryan Fritch, ‘Revisionist’ – Album Review
Over the past couple of years, singer-songwriter William Ryan Fritch has recorded enough music to rival Ryan Adams during his busiest years. So much so, the Florida-born, San Francisco-based artist somewhat ingeniously decided to release the collected recordings – now named his ‘Leave Me Sessions’ – in an ongoing subscription service that gives listeners access to more than 100 songs. His latest album under his own name, ‘Revisionist,’ marks the conclusion of that period of Fritch’s catalog -- and justly so.
While Fritch’s ‘Leave Me Sessions’ explored the multi-instrumentalist’s experimental chamber pop to its furthest ends, ‘Revisionist’’s 10 tracks offer a newfound restraint – the perfect summation of his output over the past two years.
Crafting sweeping compositions with an array of second-hand instruments, Fritch’s newest LP boasts a kind of found quality with no shortage of grandeur. With a keen editing eye, Fritch can deftly move from the stark minimalism heard in the less than three-minute ‘Heavy’ to moments of chaotic discord, like the final notes of album closer, ‘Still,’ which features Esme Patteron delicately singing atop Fritch’s uninhibited arrangements.
On the tracks where Fritch himself sings (all but two), he navigates these vast soundscapes with vocals that are adaptive -- because they have to be. On ‘Unholy Frames,’ he adopts a dark, Devendra Banhart-esque twang to emphasize his folk tendencies. At other times -- namely ‘In Denial’ and ‘Infant Sight’ -- he indulges the album’s prevalent moodiness with a haunting falsetto a la James Blake.
On ‘Revisionist,’ Fritch reconciles his instrumental digressions and ambitious, swelling arrangements with a newly honed focus. The album travels great distances in the span of its 10 tracks (often even in just one song), transitioning from finger-picked acoustic guitars and haunting choruses to echoing snares and fluttering string orchestras. If the ‘Leave Me Sessions’ proved anything, it’s that not only is Fritch a master composer, but he’s also a talented curator.
With ‘Revisionist,’ he’s able to piece it all together with a careful eye, making for one coherent statement piece.