As the naturalist John Muir wrote, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” It is for this reason that musician Tyler Ramsey goes into the woods when he is writing, and why he and his wife have settled on a plot of land many miles outside of the nearest city of Asheville, North Carolina, to raise their young daughter. For Ramsey, living deliberately and with a little space, removed from distractions and the allure of needless consumption, is how he feels most creative and at ease. And while writing For the Morning, his first album since 2011’s The Valley Wind, Ramsey tapped into that insulated world where imagination flourishes and sounds for mining are plentiful to create his most realized and regal work yet.
The Ramsey home is surrounded by mountains, fields, and trees, and a small river winds through it all. Wild animals live in the family’s forest, paying daily visits to sing their own songs. Ramsey’s hand-built music studio affords him a shelter from the cacophony or a chance to join the chorus, depending on whether or not he has the windows open. The things he does at home are the things he sings about in his songs-neither costumed nor fabricated-and in keeping with his deliberate existence, he clarifies that his lifestyle is not a badge to be worn but simply his preference.
“Spending my time here in North Carolina, swimming in the stream and walking around in the woods, it’s part of my character as a musician,” Ramsey says. “We live out in the country, I built my own studio. Out here, you have the ability to take your time and work on things slowly and comfortably. These are reasons why the music I make sounds like it does.”
For the Morning is filled with instrumentation connecting the listener to this setting: radiant acoustic piano and stark, dexterous guitar fingerpicking; lilting, poignant pedal steel and gentle, babbling beats that mosey rather than rush. We are transplanted to Ramsey’s woods even before any words can take us there. But, as he reveals, the process that brought the album to life wasn’t just one sunny stroll in the pines-a newborn baby and a professional musician’s touring schedule create their own challenges. So, it was up to Ramsey to find a balance, and he learned to take advantage of any fleeting moments of stillness whenever possible, while also using his time on the road as its own form of inspiration.
For the Morning comes together seamlessly as a cohesive work from a master songwriter and musician. “Breaking A Heart” joins the aforementioned “Dream of Home” as a standout, with sublime piano chords and beautiful guitar playing urged along by upbeat drum tracks, Ramsey’s pristine vocals left hanging in the air like mist. The lament of the former tune is one not uncommon in Ramsey’s work, and he notes that many of his favorite songs-his own or by others-are dotted with sadness. “I do gravitate toward sad music, and heartbreak is a part of the songs I write,” he says. “Writing a song is this huge emotional release and it can be very intense. There’s a lot of melancholy in what I do.”
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