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Ryan Costello – Comes Undone

Ryan Costello has form. He was half of the driving force behind The Oaks, a six piece alt-folk act from Orlando, specialising in muscular yet traditionally flavoured folk rock, sonically not too far removed from The Decemberists. In 2013, a year after the release of his last solo album, Costello was struck down with a rare nerve condition, preventing him from even so much as playing his guitar without pain.

Comes Undone is the first music Costello has released since his long, arduous recovery, and the first fruits of his forthcoming album of the same name, due in October. No doubt channelling years of pain and hard won redemption, Comes Undone is introspective but never shuts you out. He sings to an undisclosed partner, or maybe to us, conjuring images of sleep, isolation and need. “Wake me up when you go,” he sings, lamenting the contribution he is unable to make to this relationship.
All I have to give to you is now.
– Ryan Costello

 Ryan’s soft, plaintive voice, subtly multi-tracked, is indebted to Bon Iver, but the experiences in this song are his own and the telling of them is authentic. His voice is matched by some beautifully picked banjo and guitar – I can’t imagine how it must have felt to pick up that and play again after years of discomfort – and a brooding bass drone provides all the percussive energy this track needs. If this all sounds a bit dour, it’s not, Costello is joined by the beautiful voice of Kelly Morris, who undercuts his breathy tenor with a bright, ethereal harmony, which shifts sweetly around the lead vocal.

Remember how the second Sparklehorse album was all about pain and recovery? Yeah, Comes Undone is that good too.

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