In his new single, titled “I’m Slipping,” Ryan Smith delivers an unquestionably uplifting listen devoid of any over-the-top theatrics that separate true hits from fleeting trends. From the get-go, there isn’t a speck of pessimism to be sifted through in these lyrics –Smith has a lot to get off of his chest, but of all his emissions, negativity influences none of them. There’s a sense of freeing catharsis that follows every word we hear in this track, and that’s more than I can say for some of the biggest chart-toppers in pop and indie rock this autumn.
“I’m Slipping” is built on top of an incredibly simple melody, but to be perfectly honest, I think this approach to melodic faceting matches up with the black-and-white lyricism here wonderfully. There’s never any discord between the flow of the verses and that of the instrumentation; if anything, the seamlessness between them feels a little synthetic in a few spots (only because of how even everything in the mix sounds). Smith is not playing with a lot of unneeded fat in this song – if anything, he’s making a point of cutting anything and everything that would water down the narrative in the music.
Everything revolves around the vocal in “I’m Slipping,” but this isn’t to say that the instrumental presence is somehow lacking in explosiveness (nothing could be further from the truth). Instead, I think it’s important to point out just how strong a linchpin the singing is here, if for no other reason than to appreciate how profoundly pivotal it is to every exciting twist and turn we encounter in the music. There are a lot of alternative rock artists and bands alike that construct their best material around a colorful crooning, but few that I’ve listened to in 2022 have as defined an attack as this solo artist does.
Despite the plethora of instrumental components in this mix, I wouldn’t say that “I’m Slipping” ever feels overwhelming. Thanks to the meticulousness of the arrangement, we’re never presented with too much of any one element over another; every sophisticated guitar part is met with something just as sensuous and complex from the bass, vocals, or percussion. From the bassline to the relationship between our singer and the percussion in different spots, everything here has a specific role to play, and for the most part, things go off without a hitch between the start and finish lines.
In a season filled with a lot of grim lyrical content, Ryan Smith has bravely issued just the spot of optimism on the other side of a dark tunnel that we need to get through this October with “I’m Slipping.” Whether it be the plaintive video for the track or the harmonies that the song boasts all by itself, there’s something guaranteed to put a smile on your face in the latest release from this up-and-coming rock singer/songwriter, and I don’t think I’m the only critic saying so right now. Simply put, he has great energy, and he’s making the most of it marvelously in “I’m Slipping.”
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