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by Tori Sharp

An emotional revival put to music.

Phoebe Ryan’s debut album How It Used to Feel bears witness to her songwriting prowess and showcases her musical abilities. Having graduated from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in NYU, Ryan moved to L.A to put her songwriting and artistry to work. Over the years, she has found success writing songs for other musicians, citing Britney Spears as her favourite person she’s worked with. Also taking the time to say, “Free Britney”, in solidarity with the 90s pop sensation’s ongoing court case against her father’s conservatorship.

The depth behind Ryan’s writing, she tells me, comes from emotional wreckage: “the past few years I’ve spent 99% of the time completely heartbroken. It’s almost a joke at this point! I can’t wait to write love songs someday.” The album tracks a journey of emotional recovery which is totally apparent when you listen to the carefully crafted lyrics, paired with the sweeping resonance of the tracks themselves.

I ask about her influences in music and in life, and her answer moves me quite significantly: “My mom is an artist. She paints, she draws, she builds, she gardens; she does absolutely everything in her life with a creative touch. She’s living on another plane of existence and I aspire to be like her in every way. I could tell you I’m influenced by other musicians, but they could never inspire me in the way my mom does.” Having not seen my own mother in quite a few months, this heartfelt response touched a few nerves for me. You can hear the raw emotion in all of Ryan’s songs, even the more upbeat, poppy tracks. Her progression from songwriter to solo artist has just started and I’m anticipating some big things.

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