BETA version 0.9
Twenty-one-year-old Ryan Skyy has several advantages in his quest to become a mainstream show-biz pro. He’s got the look, the piano chops and a knack for melody. And he’s got the voice: a slightly nasal, melismatic R&B vocal style in the neighborhood of Gavin DeGraw, even if you get the sense he hasn’t quite learned how to let it rip. And whatever Skyy wasn’t born with, he’s picked up as a student at Point Park University.
He also has a five-song EP that he wrote, recorded and produced. Called BETA version 0.9, its title is supposed to reflect that these songs are works-in-progress. The first, “Another Day,” has a catchy melody and a funky, programmed groove; “Every Part of Me” is a soft-rocker more suited for the dentist’s chair. While all the songs seem to rely on piano and plastic-sounding sequencer, “Your Love Is Enough” pushes the equation over into synth-pop — arguably the CD’s most satisfying track.
Skyy also has a tagline: “a hip-hop Elton John.” And perhaps, in doing this project alone, Skyy has forgotten that Elton wouldn’t be much without the man who penned his classic lines — lyricist Bernie Taupin. And with lyrics like “My roommate’s in and out of rehab / and he swears he’s done his time / But his body’s doing things that feel bad / but one sniff, he’ll feel alright,” perhaps this would-be Captain Fantastic could use his own Brown Dirt Cowboy.
The other problem with shooting for “a hip-hop Elton John” is that — according to Rolling Stone and BBC News (and my esteemed colleague Andy Mulkerin) — Sir Elton’s already working on his own hip-hop album. Which is perhaps the best indicator that Skyy’s musical aspirations will be best served by figuring out what exactly his own style is all about — not some old British codger’s. Best of luck!