When listening to “What I Cause” by Ryan Paul Davis, it’s somewhere around the interlude that I realize I shouldn't be so prejudice. Allow me to explain. I’ve never been a fan of cello in contemporary music. In my opinion, cello is a classical instrument, and there are beautiful classical pieces written for it. In a genre like roots rock, there is no use for cello. However, this Texas artist does very well to convince me otherwise.
The next prejudice that I need to eliminate is that anything related to Curt Cobain and/or Nirvana is weak residue. The raw nature of Ryan Paul Davis' voice makes me think of Curt, but it is incredibly impressive, and Ryan still maintains his own voice and his own sound. The fact is that every once in a while there are also pieces of Dave Mathews that contribute to its quality. Can we really talk about roots music, the chief of grunge, and classical instruments all in the same breath? Just as on Ryan’s debut album (Soul’s Tide, 2007), the underlying current of “What I Cause” is still a melancholy mix of blues rock and roots. But it’s the alternative ingredients that make this album jump out. Take a look at “Undone” - It starts timid and somewhat bare, and eventually evolves into a musical wave that grabs the listener by the throat, only to release just in time. The unique voice of Davis and the dark, gloomy cello of Christopher Rains play a major role in this. At the same time, “With A Blade” proves that Davis can write an excellent blues song with stellar slide work.
“What I Cause” is a record with character. It soothes as well as hits you. And considering he does not use conventional instrumentation to convey his songs, I’ve come to a solid conclusion: Ryan Paul Davis definitely understands the art of songwriting.
-Lewis, Rootstime, Belgium