When William Ryan Key’s new single 'Downtown (Up North)' begins with its acoustic guitar pluckings, the emotional ripple is immediate and enveloping. But when the cello hits, it becomes an overwhelming tsunami. Taken from his second solo EP 'Virtue' (release date: November 26, 2018 via The Lone Tree Recordings), 'Downtown (Up North)' continues in Ryan’s progression forward from former Yellowcard frontman to full-fledged solo musician, thrusting him into a raw and intimate space that highlights his immaculately-crafted songwriting.
Lyrically hearkening the strains of new romantic longing, 'Downtown (Up North)' is a song enraptured in emotion and intimacy. The music itself has special resonance for Ryan as well. “Working on ‘Downtown (Up North)’ was one of the coolest experiences of my musical career,” he recalls. “For many years now the music I listen to the most has been post rock and instrumental. One of my favorite and most influential artists is Hammock. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Marc Byrd, one of the founding members, since I’ve moved to Franklin, TN. When I started writing for 'Virtue' and had the demo for 'Downtown (Up North),' I sent it to Marc and asked if he’d be interested in producing some cello for the song. I ended up getting to work with him and Hammock’s cellist, Matt Slocum [Sixpence None the Richer] on the track. I feel so lucky to get to work and collaborate with artists that inspire me. “ His second solo EP, 'Virtue' continues the songwriting journey that Ryan began with his surprise EP 'Thirteen' which was released earlier this Summer. While the former EP embraced uncertainty and nervous energy of taking a step into new and uncharted territory, 'Virtue' posits Ryan onto firmer ground with a newfound confidence in his own abilities as a songwriter. As leader of one of the most successful alternative rock bands of the last two decades, he was able to feel the united front of his Yellowcard bandmates. But now, as a solo musician, he has presented a vulnerable side that isn’t scared of tapping into his inner feelings and thoughts. “With 'Virtue,' I wanted to explore and expand on the sound I’ve discovered both musically and lyrically," he says. "Similar to my first release, all of the songs came together in such a spontaneous manner. The recording sessions were very much driven by capturing what felt right in the moment, and moving on to the next idea."