Blackwell is a new Chicago-based folk rock act comprised of singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan Loree and drummer Brandon Buffington. Ryan has previously released music under his solo act Draft Evader, which I’ve written about on this blog. The duo just released their debut single “Six Figure Suitor“, a hard-driving rocker that Ryan said has a heavier, poppier sound than many of the other songs they’ve been working on. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered by Joe Scaletta, who also played bass.
The song bursts open with a roiling barrage of Ryan’s grungy guitar, which is soon joined by Brandon’s aggressive drumbeats, along with a throbbing bassline that doesn’t let up. I’ve always liked Ryan’s songwriting and lyricism, and his guitar work and Brandon’s drumming are both outstanding here. Further, Ryan’s plaintive vocals have an honest vulnerability that’s really endearing, and keep sounding better and better as he matures as a musician and singer.
To my ears, the song has a bit of a Gin Blossoms feel, only heavier. I’m also impressed by the tight arrangement and economical production; the song immediately gets right to the point, knocking our socks off in the process, without a single superfluous note or wasted second. It’s rock’n’roll at its finest.
As to the meaning of “Six Figure Suitor”, Ryan told me it’s about two people jumping into a new relationship while still being completely consumed by their pasts. The relationship becomes abusive and toxic, with one partner imposing unfair expectations on the other.
I'm not a six figure suitor baby And I don't think that I'll ever be A sniper in the U.S. Army He's content to dance on my grave But he's got a six shooter waiting He's been hiding in your driveway And it won't be long, til we find God Well he's been lost, but so has paradise So I guess we've outgrown the honeymoon phase But disappointment on your face Tells a lyric I can't think of I'm not a six-figure suitor baby And I don't think that I'll ever be A sniper in the U.S. Army And it won't be long, til we find God Well she's been lost, but so has paradise And it won't be long, til we find God Well they've been lost, but so has paradise
“Six Figure Suitor” is a very fine debut effort by these two talented musicians. Ryan told me they have lots of songs ready to go, including an EP of acoustic songs, and I can’t wait to hear them.