The Northeast Ohio Musician Teases Upcoming Full-Length Album with 5 Original Tracks
by Brittany Nader
After 17 years as a drummer, Akron native Daniel Rylander was inspired to pick up the guitar, piano and ukulele after a tragic event changed the trajectory of his life in 2012. His older brother David was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Rylander co-wrote a song to perform at his late sibling’s funeral.
Rylander’s family traveled to Hawaii shortly after his brother’s funeral, and it was there that Rylander bought his first ukulele and learned the instrument in a two-week period. He had previously written songs for his high school band, Trademark Mistake, and begun to mature as a songwriter. In 2013, he had enough material to release his first full-length album, Strawberry Skyline.
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Rylander, now 26, returns this year with a new collection of songs initially inspired by the changing seasons, shifting weather patterns and variations in daylight. The five-track release, How The Seasons Change Us, took two years to write and record. Rylander explains that each song was written at a different point in that span of time, with some reworked prior to the recording of the album to polish the final result.
“Writing the songs became like therapeutic for me because I was dealing with a lot of personal things,” Rylander says. “One thing I learned from my brother’s death is nobody is promised tomorrow. The title comes from how the seasons changed me.”
The EP’s beginning track, “The Alibi of Springtime,” sets the tone for the five-song collection. The piano-driven number was written four or five years ago but was reworked in 2017 to reflect Rylander’s changing perspective. The track is reminiscent of Ben Folds, who the songwriter cites as a big influence on his writing and performance styles.
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“The Alibi of Springtime” will lead into an as-of-yet unreleased song on a full-length album Rylander hopes to debut in 2020. The current EP, which also contains the tracks “Right Now,” “Move,” “Understanding” and “White Elephant,” was released in August 2018 as a way to give audiences a taste of the larger project Rylander has in the works.
“The industry has changed so much, and how we listen to music has changed,” Rylander says. “The single is the new EP, and the EP is the new full-length album. I’m using this EP as the ‘breadcrumbs’ that lead the listener to the upcoming full-length, inviting them to come along with me.”
“White Elephant” was written in one day, Rylander explains, and was initially released as a single in 2016. It first emerged as a joke song inspired by an ugly candy dish Rylander received at a white elephant party. He explains he wrote the song in 24 hours, and through the writing process it began to develop more meaning and gradually evolved into a more heartfelt tune.
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“Move” came together in a little more than week, whereas other songs he’s written have been in the works over the course eight or nine years.
“I like to connect ideas,” Rylander says. “I’ll write a melody, let it be for a couple days, or write a theme and record it on my iPhone and let it sit, then return to it.”
Rylander recorded How The Seasons Change Us at Creekside Audio in Norton and worked closely with producer Wes McCraw, who the musician says he has a close rapport with. McCraw is able to understand what Rylander is trying to communicate through his songs, and the result is a collaborative effort — something Rylander says he hopes to do more of with local musicians in the future. His upcoming full-length record will involve talent sourced from the community.
“Northeast Ohio is probably one of the best spots for music right now. There’s so much to choose from, style-wise,” Rylander says. “There’s really no wrong way to do it — music — these days. You have more independence and can be more personal. You can be the artist you want to be.”
Daniel Rylander will perform songs from his latest EP, How The Seasons Change Us, at Nervous Dog Coffee Bar, located at 1530 W. Market St., Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. Visit danielrylander.com for additional live performance dates.
Brittany Nader has been a professional writer and marketer in Akron for the last five years.
Photo of Dylan and album cover by Mitch Jendrisak. Cover design by Daniel Rylander.