David Ryan Harris has built quite the career for himself over the past three decades, with over six full-length studio albums under his belt and having performed with the likes of John Mayer, Dave Matthews, and Santana. The singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has spent much of 2017 on the road with Mayer, holding down guitar duty alongside the Dead & Company guitarist. However, somehow, Harris has found the time to cut a new album in the last year, with his seventh studio album, Songs For Other People, to be released on Friday, June 23rd.
Harris’ latest studio effort is a soulful work, on which the guitarist taps drummer Terrence Clark, keys player Zach Ray, and Grammy-winning producer Mike Elizondo on bass. Songs For Other People is a finely crafted album, offering seven tracks that merge pop sensibilities with tastes of soul, the blues, and more traditional rock. While there is clearly a lot of intentionality on Harris’ Songs For Other People, both thematically and musically, its creation was more or less serendipitous. Harris will be the first to admit that at the onset he never intended to create this 2017 release; rather, the songs were culled from his various collaborations over the year. He notes, “I had co-written written some songs intending to give them to other artists, and there were a few that just never found homes. The idea of singing these songs myself was something I’d though about for a little while and slowly I started to get excited at how wide open this project could be. There were no boundaries musically or thematically other than the fact that these songs are for and about other people.”
While the creation of the album was untraditional, the idea of each of these songs being written for others is intriguing, especially when considering how coherent of a work it is. David Ryan Harris tells Live For Live Music, “For the first time in my career, I’ve written a record full of songs that aren’t songs about my life. I still feel connected to the stories even though they aren’t autobiographical. Initially, I was a little afraid that people might question the authenticity of the songs, because my normal m.o. is to write about myself. It’s been incredibly validating to have had people relate to the first two releases the way they have. I can’t wait for people to dig into the other songs.”
Despite the ghostwriter-y roots of many of the songs, the album offers a solid glimpse into Harris’ sound, particularly highlighting his crisp vocals and catchy hooks. The lead two tracks “Fascinating” and “Coldplay” have already been positively received, though a deeper look at the album shows Harris’ innate ability to draw listeners in from the get-go, as evidenced on “Red Balloons,” a more rock-centric tune with a dramatic piano opening. Other highlights include “Kerosene,” whose mellow groove and mournful lyrics are perfectly complemented by Harris’ cascading voice, and “Average Joe,” which shows off Harris’ emotive guitar stylings.