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Ryan Costello: After the Fire 

A review of Ryan Costello's new album, After the Fire.

In stores October 20

click to enlarge thumb_cd_costello.jpg
With a melodic depth that catches the ear, Ryan Costello remains true to his roots as a member of indie rock band, the Oaks. Costello's use of 12 different instruments creates a soulful arrangement that sounds similar to that of Sufjan Stevens, who is a clear influence on Costello's most personal album yet. From the first song, "Hallelujah," a lofty instrumental track, the album is an ethereal vision that sprouts from Costello's extraordinary experiences.

After selling all of his possessions and moving to Afghanistan, Costello worked with the Global Hope Network to teach usable agriculture methods to refugees. This sympathetic mindset certainly shows in the album with feelings new and from the earth. After The Fire is a progression from spiritual longing to rebirth; from "After The Fire," a song about a smoldering landscape and Ryan's call to "come on and make it new," to the "Creation Song," a song of the mountains rejoicing a young and green earth.

The album explores spiritual doubt that arises from devastation, "I can feel it / A shred of belief in the night/ And it pulls me in," and the realization that the force bringing him down was himself. Although the electronic drums used in some songs are less than soulful, accompaniment on select tracks by fellow Oaks members Matthew Antolick's expansive drumming and Greg Wilson's jazzy horns, Costello's orchestrated image becomes the epiphany exemplified in the last song, "The Voice"; "I felt a joy stronger than wine flooding my mind/ The beast at the door was slain on the floor."


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