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Ryan Michael Block - Folk Tunes in Dub (EP) TDRCO-063

1 Fall Free (Reprise 1)
2 Mariya Is in It
3 May Four Ever
4 Thanks for the Surgery
5 First Song for Melody Ann
6 Fall Free (Reprise 2)

To say that Ryan Michael Block’s Folk Tunes In Dub cannot be easily boxed in is kind of putting it lightly. As the title so aptly implies, Block’s characteristic songwriting manages to transcend any preconceived genre parameters, transmuting musical lead into gold with an eccentric and completely localized admixture of freaknik folk, filmic soundscape, dub reggae, and lo-fi aesthetics that rattles and hums with the bohemian vibes of his home base of Portland, Oregon. Folk Tunes in Dub’s six tracks pull up anchor and abandon port for the wide open sea of instrumental folk, along the way navigating through island-hopping psychedelia (“Mariya Is In It”), gauzy waiting room soundtrack scores (“Thanks for the Surgery”), hummable folk ditties for the kiddos (“First Song For Melody Ann”), and rock steady dub reiterations (“May Four Ever”). Opening and closing the record are two versions of the same track, given variable treatment and demonstrating Block’s ability to take simple ideas and package them in interesting and unforeseen ways, building on the original melodic iteration until a particular line or phrase is stuck in your head for days.

Block’s ear for melody and his equally adept and yet workingman’s musicianship make for engaging, and better yet endearing, listening, as demonstrated across a small pile of such records that he’s managed to release over the past handful of years on his Portland-based Ten Dollar Recording Company label. Renouncing any notion of trend aping, Block’s songwriting is often as refreshing as it is idiosyncratic, and any tuned-in listener will surely find much to enjoy here. Coupled with haunting guest vocals on select tracks from label mate Mariya May, Folk Tunes in Dub is often ethereal in its approach, eddying as it does between earthy backroom psych, natty day-glo dub, and fragile lines of folk whimsy. Folk Tunes in Dub is bound to get your head on straight, so get to it already. (REED BURNAM, Feb 9, 2015)

Release Date: May 4, 2014