Recommended Tracks: “Deep End”, “Over Tonight”, “Somebody Good”
Artists You May Like: Ariana Grande, Saleka, Meghan Trainor
Based on the countless number of books, movies, songs, stories, and real-life experiences about love that exist, we should all be experts on the matter. We know that love can be confusing, spectacular, creepy, heart-wrenching, exhausting – a countless number of adjectives. It has no rhyme, no reason, no instructions, no timelines. But even though we know so much, it is still tricky to figure out. Take it from pop-jazz artist Stacey Ryan, who breaks down her understanding of love on her debut EP, I Don’t Know What Love Is.
On I Don’t Know What Love Is, Stacey gives us plenty of material on love, referencing her need for it to go right. The concept of being in a one-sided relationship is too much for her to handle on “Fall In Love Alone,” where she tells her partner to step up. She spins her lines so effortlessly, as if she is dancing through the notes as she sings, “Give me a sign / If I’m on your mind / I don’t want to fall in love alone.” The plot thickens on “Bad For Me,” with Stacey trying hard to resist temptation. On this track, she has trouble rectifying the needs of her head and her heart, singing, “The voice in my head keeps on saying that you’re bad for me / But the boy in my bed is the only thing I can see / You make me uneasy / You’re toxic and unhealthy / But it’s too bad that it’s too good.” It is a messy situation, but it demonstrates the complicated nature of love.
Complications also arise when you compare fantasies about love and relationships to reality. Stacey does some of this on “The Idea,” trying to decide if she is better off having someone by her side. The slower vibes of this track allow her vocals to stand out more so than they already do, her rich and sultry tone embellishing lines like, “Am I in love with you or just the idea?” and “I guarantee ya, that we can compete with the portraits in my mind.” The fantasies continue on “Over Tonight,” as Stacey wonders, “Instead of dreaming about you / Maybe you could stay over tonight.” We are treated to layers of sound, melodies, rhythms, and grooves, all combining to give this song an electric, cinematic feel that turns it into a pure celebration. In this case, the reality is just as good as the fantasy.
The remaining tracks touch on the love Stacey has for herself. On opening track “Deep End,” she warns others out there that falling for her is like jumping into the deep end of a pool. To a playful pop production, she sings, “If you think you’re fallin’ in love / Tellin’ me I’m the one / Go have a little fun / Before you jump into the deep end.” She implies that she is a lot to handle, but her tone changes on the closing track “Somebody Good.” Over finger-snaps and melodic piano, Stacey sings, “You know I don’t litter / I’m a really good tipper / And I won’t be late if you ask me out to dinner / I’m just doing my best to be someone with integrity / Somebody good.” The theme of the EP comes to a head here, as we gather that being a nice person is your best bet when you are a little lost; above anything else, be polite.
Overall, Stacey Ryan may not exactly know what is going on in the love department, but that doesn’t stop her from making a lovely EP. This is a cool, solid debut project, emphasizing her singing and songwriting abilities. We are treated to intricate and fun combinations of styles and sounds, playing to her strengths as a pop-jazz artist. Lyrically, Stacey is also able to deliver fresh takes of common scenarios and situations, keeping the youth and the life of the EP going from start to finish. In the end, if the relationship doesn’t work out, if love remains a mystery, at least we will have I Don’t Know What Love Is to sustain us.
You can listen to I Don’t Know What Love Is on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.