Rhyan Sinclair


It’s tough when people have to experience loss, grief and heartache at an early age.  At age seventeen, Rhyan Sinclair is no stranger to hard times.  At the tender age of five, her grandfather, who was her best friend, was diagnosed with melanoma.  He only lived a matter of months.  In the few years that followed, she lost more people close to her, aunts and uncles and great-grandparents.  When she first started writing music seriously at age eleven for the adult band All the Little Pieces, she vented this sorrow into her music, but in spite of the sad times, she learned perseverance and how to pull herself up by her boot straps and keep going. Music was never something she simply wanted to do, it was what she had to do.

Sinclair was imaginative and driven from a very early age and her mom decided to try homeschooling so that she could have time to pursue her creative visions.  This was the perfect atmosphere for her to learn music, video production/editing and writing and, despite a difficult home life in her early years, Sinclair and her mom found freedom in this lifestyle and eventually moved on to happier times.  Settling into life in a new town with a new family led to a rebirth and even more opportunities for creative growth.

Always dubbed an old soul, Sinclair’s lyrics continue to impress listeners and give them a narrative to identify with that defies age or gender. The first two albums she recorded with her band were experimental in nature, drifting from rootsy country to blues and rock.  In 2015, she went on a ghost tour with the band in Charleston, SC.  She was so inspired by the ghost story of Lavinia Fisher, that Tim Burton-esque visions transformed into songs on the long ride home.  Those songs evolved into the concept album The Legend of Lavinia Fisher.  With this album, Sinclair had developed a more cohesive sound that had drifted solidly into alt-country/Americana territory.  The recording of this album was a bit tumultuous as long-time band members decided this was not the musical direction they were comfortable with.  Disappointed, but holding fast to her creative vision for the album, Sinclair headed into uncharted territory, enlisting the talents of Fats Kaplin, Warren Hood and Carl Verheyen to fill in the gaps and bring Lavinia to life.  Despite the drama she had to deal with, Sinclair felt that she’d found her true sound and direction.  After more than five years of touring the country and hundreds of shows, she felt she was coming into her own as an artist.

Less than a year after Lavinia was released, the songs began pouring out like a flood. Inspired by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris’ Trio album that she’d just organized a tribute concert for, Sinclair began writing timeless country songs that begged for lush harmonies and soaring pedal steel.  Enlisting the talents of current band members and other friends, Barnstormer, her debut solo album, started taking shape.  Through the recording of the fourteen tracks on this record, Sinclair not only found her sound, she found her true voice.

It’s not often a debut solo album written and co-produced by a teenager recalls an Emmylou Harris or Steve Earle record you’ve had for decades.  The raw emotion in her vocals and unapologetic honesty of her lyrics draw you in. From the Waylon-esque lonesome twang and weeping pedal steel that begin the opening track, “From Here,” into the bluegrass infused, boot-stomping fun of the title track, this album is a first-listen ride that is equal parts contemplative and joyful.  “The Hourglass” showcases Sinclair’s old-soul songwriting, with thought provoking lyrics and exquisite guest harmonies and fiddle by Lillie Mae. With inspiration from sources as diverse as Chris Isaak, Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys and Jason Isbell, Sinclair takes the listener on a winding road of moods and melodies.  There are soaring harmonies, twangy telecasters and spacey steel guitar (“Retrograde”), raw emotion and front porch fiddle (“Cold Summer’s Day”), undeniable soul and swelling organ (“What Time is it in California?”), timeless themes (“Selfishly, Heartlessly” and “This Beaten Down Heart”) and a joyful ode to moving forward (“Free at Last”).  Sinclair proves with these fourteen songs that she’s in it for the long haul and her journey has just begun.

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Maria Ivey – maria@thepresshouse.com