Review Summary: William Ryan Key's Magnum Opus
William Ryan Key has a way of transcending lyrics as a vocalist. In the same way emotions flared in Yellowcard tracks ‘Believe’ and ‘Holly Wood Died,’ Key possessed a unique ability to communicate hefty subjects through his infectious vocals and unending passion. With Yellowcard stripped away, Key is without the youthful sound of years past; yet, his music never sounded more real.
continues to remind fans why Key is one of the best musicians working today. Through its intimate song structure and higher production, Virtue
assembles a warm melodic tone that explores the life and career of a man who lived an endless summer. As he reflects on his career, Key peels back the pop punk fineness to reveal the shattered core of a life spent elsewhere.
“I bend, I break, recover…” sings a humbled Key in 'Mortar and Stone.'
adopts an expansive approach to Key’s solo work. The inclusion of layers and instrumentals improve the atmosphere of each track. The closing track ‘No More, No Less’ boasts a spiraling aray of drums, guitar and violin to create a tense dreary atmosphere as Key drifts through the lonely streets of Ocean Avenue longing for a home.
The title track improves the nostalgic formula of Key’s sound by implementing 80’s-esque keyboards playing over a somberly picked guitar. The grief ridden track builds to an explosive climax with crashing drums and tense instrumentals before fading into a calming tone with foreign vocals.
As 2018 comes to a close in less than a day, reflecting on one of 2018’s most essential records seems fitting. Virtue
treks deeper into the emotional journey of one William Ryan Key. Although Yellowcard ran its course, seldom do we see a solo vocalist who relies not on the memory of his past work, rather, one that builds upon it.
plays like chapters in a book. Each song is a page in the biography of Key’s life as a husband and father, not a skater kid racing to the beach. The heartbreaking sacrifice of time spent away from his family is understood beautifully throughout the album. I have come to respect Key more as a musician by listening to Thirteen
I regard Virtue
as one of the most important records listeners will hear to date. The thematic lyrics and instrumentals build to a masterpiece of solo music. The most amazing feature of both Thirteen
is telling the tale of a man who has given everything without giving up.