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Ryan Sambol





Ryan Sambol Releases New Album ‘Gestalt’

Ryan Sambol has a remarkable and mystical sense of humor. Across barely 23 minutes on his new album, Gestalt, he meanders through his own plucked guitar strings and muddled piano keys to highlight strange observations and theories. The name of the record comes from the German word for “shape” and is often associated with the Gestalt school of psychology, in which the whole is perceived to be far more than the sum of its parts.

 

The whole of Sambol’s career is, in fact, far more than the sum of its parts. He’s a well-worn poet and a former garage rocker from the Austin outfits The Strange Boys and Living Grateful and he likes to zig-zag while telling a story. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’s two sheets to the wind, but he’s eerily calm for a storyteller in his element.

 

Gestalt opens with tender chords that unfold like petals to reveal Sambol’s timid vocals on “You’re Still Lovable To Someone” (but it’s your guess who that ‘someone’ could be). “According to this guy / I haven’t seen the greatest movie of all time / I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was blind,” he exhales in his apathetic warble. Aspirational thinking rather than actionable advice drive his motives, if barely—“Let’s raise money for each other sometime / If the need arose it’d be good to know,” is the half-assed yet whole-hearted sentiment of someone trying to be the lovable type.

 

The power of quiet records comes from what’s unsaid more than what’s spoken for all to hear. “We met in the comments / Of one of our favorite singer’s songs,” Sambol sings on “Just Like Golden Hours”—not in the stands, not in the audience, but out in the forum where worlds apart are able to come together. The feeling is immediately resonant like a monostitch from the would-be Twitter account of Joni Mitchell; golden hours are prone to fade, YouTube videos queue to the next one and romances slowly die.

 

If Gestalt is more than the sum of its parts, it surely is a triumph. Its sum is a loosely-hewn batch of emotional country, but what it amounts to is a beautiful and poetic thought catalog of observations too small for the rest of us to catch.

 

- Mike Floeck

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