Very few things are as exciting as when a favorite artist releases new music. Usually, it’s marked on your mental calendar and you know it’s Tuesday and you’ve been waiting for the album. NeedToBreathe this week, Ray Lamontagne in a few. But sometimes EPs can sneak up on you. When that happens, it’s like Christmas come early. That’s what happened to me on Tuesday with Tyler Lyle.
Tyler Lyle’s past efforts have been marvelous. The Golden Age and the Silver Girl and Expatriates were firmly on my end of year lists and, with songs like “California” and “Rodanthe”, Lyle has cemented himself with David Ramirez and Noah Gunderson as the cream of the crop when in comes to singer songwriters, at least in my humble opinion. Ditchdigger sees Lyle trying something different with surprisingly effective results and proving that his songwriting chops remain some of the best in the business.
Ditchdigger begins with a new version of his song “Werewolf” off of his last EP. It’s a little bit more professional and more fleshed out, though it’s lyrics remain unchanged. “And some days I am a mother fucking werewolf,/ I am a cannibal that eats himself alive.” The first change of significance on the album comes on “A Song to Sing”. While it’s a love song and one that has Lyle’s trademark mix of philosophical musings with personal confessions, it’s got a more pop sound, more refined and more electric. While I’d generally complain about this, here it works wonderfully. It doesn’t take anything away from the songs and Lyle benefits from the professional engineered sound.
“Young Men” is Lyle’s most philosophical song on the EP. It borders on the cliche, but he eschews that for some remarkably poignant observations. “We all just want to live forever and we are sorry we will never.” Perhaps the most interesting song, lyrically and philosophically, is “You.” It’s a song that sounds regretful, about a lost love, but that he feels responsible. While those feelings are there, there is clearly love and longing still attached. “It’s just that once you’ve tasted flight,/ It’s hard to spend the rest of your life, back on earth.”
But the song that warrants the most discussion here is “Ditchdigger”. While it’s a song that starts slow and vocal, it slowly picks up and the percussion and rhythm make this a song that’s not easily forgotten. What’s most interesting and impressive about this song, however, is for Lyle’s fans. While this verses and bridge are typically poetic (a trademark of Lyle’s), the chorus is identical to the chorus of “Rodanthe” off of his Expatriates EP. To here the chorus from a love song follow a line like “And the river bends into the sea, it’s course is fixed and so are we” is an interesting switch. It’s a nod to fans, it’s a rehashing of a great song, and it’s a perfect repurposing of a brilliant hook. Tyler Lyle is one of today’s best singer-songwriters and Ditchdigger is further evidence of this. Do yourself a favor and check it out.