Stranded in the Present Tense
Reviewed by: Jane Roser
When Nashville singer-songwriter Ryan Harris Brown spent a year and a half suffering from a devastating disease, he took all of his frustrations, fears and uncertainty and channeled them into creating his first full-length album; the culmination of a terrifying ordeal most of us will never have to experience in our lifetime, much less at such a young age (Brown was just 27 when the severity of his illness required his entire colon to be removed). Themes of doubt, mortality and hope candidly thread throughout this album, but Brown never once comes across as someone to pity. Instead, he delivers light-hearted melodies and thought provoking lyrics to rise as a phoenix above the ashes instead of expressing a crash and burn attitude.
The autobiographical opening track “Begin” first appeared on Brown’s 2013 EP Wave Goodbye Wave Hello and is reworked here into a powerful personal anthem: “My fate was blowing in the wind/As one thing ends, something new begins.”
“Confidence Don’t Go” is a beautiful, intimate ballad delivered with a lot of heart and raw emotion. The stripped-down simplicity of it makes you feel as if you were in the room while it was being recorded.
Recorded in Portland and Nashville and featuring artists such as Grammy-nominated Sierra Hull (Best Folk album of the Year), Nir Z (John Mayer, Jason Mraz) and David LaBruyere (John Mayer), Stranded in the Present Tense is a powerful reminder that human frailty can sometimes give rise to the strength we didn’t realize we had inside us all along.