Artists | David Ryan Harris
You’ve either got soul or you don’t. David Ryan Harris most definitely does. The singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist has built an impressive catalog of soulful stories that instantly captivate.
“I’ve always thought soulfulness comes from telling stories in a way that makes people relate to them,” he says. “That’s what it is. People believe in what you’re saying, because you’re singing from the heart.”
That’s exactly what Harris has done throughout his near three-decade career. Whether it be in early bands such as Follow For Now and Brand New Immortals or over the course of six full-length solo albums, he tells stories that resonate. He’s carried this same spirit while performing with the likes of John Mayer, Dave Matthews, and Santana or producing for Cassandra Wilson and Guy Sebastian—with whom he co-wrote the RIAA platinum-certified “Battle Scars”. Most recently, it drove 2015’s Lightyears, which boasted guest spots from John Mayer, India.Arie, and Nikka Costa. Along the way, he received acclaim from All Music Guide, Glide Magazine, Elmore Magazine, Performer Magazine, AXS, Relix Magazine, and many others in addition to performing on Fox, CBS, and The CW in between packed tours. His next chapter unfolds on his 2017 seventh offering Songs For Other People. Culled from collaborations with co-writers, the songs orbit around a cinematic theme.
“I wasn’t really intending to make a record,” he admits. “There were some great songs that I’d written for other people and they just never found homes. I was affording myself a pretty wide open space which I don’t normally inhabit on my own, and I got really excited because there were no boundaries musically. The title is literal. The songs are for and about other people.”
In order to track Songs For Other People, he tapped the talents of drummer Terrence Clark who he met on YouTube, keyboard player Zach Ray, and GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Mike Elizondo [Eminem, Dr. Dre, Fiona Apple, Maroon 5] on bass. They cut the album’s seven jams in less than three weeks’ time during 2016.
On the record, Harris brings a pronounced sense of passion and power to pop music. The single “Coldplay” balances delicate clean guitar and airy percussion with his dynamic vocal range, fluctuating from a soft croon to a simmering and soaring falsetto.
“Basically, the song walks you through the beginning of a relationship until the end, and this girl’s love for Coldplay is the backdrop,” he goes on. “The guy finds the tickets in his drawer, and it immediately brings him back. I think everybody has had one of those ‘Coldplay Moments,’ as I like to call them.”
Elsewhere, “Kerosene” proves both incendiary and intoxicating all at once as it paints a portrait of “a heartbroken guy who’s drinking kerosene and wants to do some damage.” A clean riff drives the upbeat swing of “Good,” which culminates on the unshakable refrain, “You’re the kind of bad girl that would make a good wife.” With its mellotron hum and narrative lyricism, “Average Joe” tackles longing and regret through a tongue-in-cheek visual. “It’s this dude hiding in the bushes looking at his ex-girlfriend with her new guy,” he adds. “The protagonist doesn’t realize he’s the one who’s average.”
In between returning to the road on guitar duty for John Mayer in 2017, Harris will be performing across North America on solo shows. No matter what he does, that sense of soul ultimately defines him.
“When anybody listens to Songs For Other People, I’d love for them to experience a feeling of escape,” he leaves off. “These little vignettes are relatable, but they’re also a respite. Everyone can relate to heartbreak and love. It’s real.”