Photo by Taylor Blackson.
On Saturday, Jan. 20, singer-songwriter Ryan Human traveled from Lincoln, Neb. to perform as a part of Saturday Night Late, a series from Campus Life. The concert was in support of his EP, “Piano Room,” a collection of four pop songs consisting of bare-bones of keyboard and voice. Human played three songs from the EP as well as an unrecorded tune. While the set was short, he was sincere and really put himself out there, exuding comfort and warmth on stage.
Despite some live sound difficulties resulting in a twenty-minute delay, the audience, a modest but successful turnout—especially for a Saturday night in Warch—stuck around, eager to hear the singer-songwriter. The lights were then dimmed, folks sunk deeper into the comfy armchairs, and his voice projected over full piano chords.
The opening song, “With You,” was a tender tune for his two five-year-old daughters. It was refreshing to hear a song about this subject, made even better by his candid introduction explaining that the song “wasn’t about a girlfriend or whatever.” “With You” and the three other songs he performed were all heartfelt in a simplistic way. Complex arrangements, more instrumentation, harmonies or other additions to the songs could have detracted and diluted from the intimate core of the music. But the stripped down, repetitive piano parts acting as a foundation for Human’s clear, emotive voice served the essence of the music and its message well.
While this is not necessarily music I would usually listen to, I was happy to go to this concert and grateful that Human visited Lawrence. While the music scene here has me immersed in free improvisation, jazz, world and a whole slew of other styles, it is not often that I hear simpler, not as “niche” music. To have a job that gets me learning the inherent value of all music—even that I do not typically take for more than face-value—is a privilege I try not to take lightly. Every now and then, I urge you to go forth and see a concert you normally would not, whether that means one you have no knowledge about or one you may be unfairly overlooking.
You can hear Ryan Human’s “Piano Room” on most streaming services.