England’s The Coral released their wonderfully weird self-titled debut in 2002. The band received almost instant critical acclaim for their sonically adventurous, yet playful, sound. That acclaim continues to this day, but back in 2008, the band’s lead guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones decided to take his leave. But Ryder-Jones has kept busy, and his solo work’s received its own share of critical kudos.
Back in 1996, a few school friends started jamming in a pub basement in the their seaside hometown of Hoylake (near Liverpool). Ryder-Jones was one of them, and the band they formed would eventually become The Coral. Ryder-Jones stayed with them for five full-lengths until his 2008 departure. He jumped right into his solo career. In 2011 he released the ambitious, orchestral album If…, a record conceived as a companion soundtrack of sorts to Italo Calvino’s 1979 novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.
Ryder-Jones returns to more traditional pop songwriting for his newest record Bad Wind Blows In My Heart (out April 23 on Domino Records). He recorded the album in his childhood bedroom at his mother’s house in Liverpool. Composed mostly on piano and guitar (with the help of some local friends in the band By The Sea), it’s a quiet, tender record that has more in common with singer-songwriters like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith than the psych-pop of his former band The Coral. The album’s first single “He Took You In His Arms,” is a lovely, classic pop ballad (complete with a few nice, Beatles-y chord changes, and a lyrical refrain at the end). Ryder-Jones almost whispers his vocals, and with the warm, naturalistic recording, you can just hear his fingers sliding across the guitar’s fretboard. It’s an intimate tune from a songwriter that’s really blossomed since embarking on his solo career.