In many ways, Ryland Fisher’s latest studio album is a departure from his first two. RYLAND was a romantic introduction to the captivating singer-songwriter, and we saw more of his edgy side in Black Sheep.
Sleeping with Ghosts: Volume I is Fisher’s most conceptual album. Stripped down, poetic, and, at times, straight-up cinematic, this collection of songs experiments with everything from a sweet mandolin to a synthesizer and even some R&B flavor. And Sleeping with Ghosts: Volume I isn’t just longer in title; it’s a longer record, too. We get nearly double the number of tracks, proving Fisher isn’t slowing down releasing music anytime soon.
The project begins with Fisher’s rendition of the Country Billboard-charter he co-wrote with Joey Ebach and its first artist, Stephanie Quayle. The original version of ‘Whatcha Drinkin’ Bout’ is playful, sassy, and flirtatious—but Fisher’s version is gentle, inviting, and echoes with heartache.
Fisher doesn’t make us wallow very long, because next comes the most swoon-worthy song on the album: ‘Take You Home.’ You can hear the spark of new love in the melody and synthesizer. The hook is irresistible and sweet. His vocals are strong and sincere.
Much of Sleeping with Ghosts: Volume I is about being haunted by the past. Sometimes—like in the troubadour’s prayer, ‘Outrun the Devil’—Fisher runs from his history. And sometimes he welcomes it back with open arms and a blanket under the stars. Featuring an intoxicating melody and nostalgic lyrics that are effortlessly cool in every way, ‘Deja You’ is a sing-along worthy example of the latter—and it’s Ryland Fisher at his best.
Fisher is the master at taking an idea and wrestling it into a feeling that transcends age, gender, and background. His third album truly illuminates his gift for storytelling and lyrical bite, as Fisher and his co-writers have told every “ghost” story with delightful intentionality. The visuals, emotion, and, ultimately, the frustration of Sleeping with Ghosts: Volume I will haunt you long after you’re done listening.