It’s not uncommon for the most meaningful things in life to take time to come to fruition. Careers. Relationships. Children. Even happiness itself. Promises forestalled are still promises fulfilled once they are realized, regardless of the time it takes to see them through.
Of course, those who dream big already know that. Grand ambitions aren’t attained overnight, and oftentimes, life tends to get in the way. Still, there are those that simply dream and those that actually turn those dreams into reality. And those that do the latter know that it takes patience and persistence to get things done.
That said, credit Ryan Newton for following through on his goal to make music, having withstood the delays and false starts before seeing it through to its conclusion. Casting Shadows (On the Heels of Tomorrow), the album that resulted, is the culmination of a 20 year dream, more than five years of effort, plenty of perseverance, and a steadfast desire to make the best music he knew how, regardless of the wait.
“I was in a high school band like a lot of people my age,” Newton recalls. “However once you leave high school, real life tends to get in the way of things, and suddenly you get the sense that life is passing you by. It took me awhile to actually record anything I felt was genuinely worthwhile. I recorded a handful of demos around five years ago, but I wasn’t satisfied with the results so I scrapped them. I didn’t write anything else for some time, but then I suddenly got the spark. Inspiration can take time.”
The spark he’s referring to was witnessing a show by one of his musical heroes, Tom Cochrane, a fellow Canadian artist he had long admired. “Suddenly, I was inspired. The songs came to me in a burst of creativity. I found myself writing a song a day for two weeks straight, It was like I was unleashing lightening in a bottle.”
Newton rang up Edward Lee, an old high school buddy he hadn’t seen in 15 years and suggested they get together and record. They ensconced themselves in Broken Spiral Studios in Nanaimo, British Columbia, a city of 100,000 people located on Vancouver Island, approximately an hour and a half from Vancouver. It’s an idyllic setting, the place where Newton was raised and the location he still calls home.
Ultimately, the album took two years to make. Due to his day job, Newton had to confine his recording time in the studio to weekends. Nevertheless, the results proved extremely satisfying. Channeling his seminal influences -- specifically, the anthemic overreach of bands like Oasis, Stereophonics, U2, and the Goo Goo Dolls -- with the insistence and urgency of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Cochrane, Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, and Drew Holcomb, he fused a folk rock sound flush with oversized choruses of a decided singalong variety.
“I wrote these songs for me,” Newton insists. “It was therapeutic, as if I was finally able to express emotions and sentiments that had been bottled up for far too long. The subjects of these songs deal with things most of us experience as we’re growing up and coming of age in our early to mid 20s, and so I hope they resonate with the people that lean in and listen. If only one person finds something that provides a source of solace and support, then that will make me feel satisfied.”
The songs on the album are woven together in a continuous thread, touching on themes that involve the challenges and triumphs life brings while accruing wisdom, awareness and accomplishment. It’s about gaining confidence, and the ability to express thoughts that need to be shared while gravitating to the people and things that are truly most important.
Those thoughts are reflected in the album’s song titles -- “Live to Fight Another Day,” “You Know You Can, You Will,” “Casting Shadows,” and “Fragile Ways,” among them. The melodies are fresh and vibrant, flush with affirmation, enthusiasm and rousing refrains that make the listener sit up and take notice. They speak to those that need to be lifted up and embraced, offerings that punctuate their tones with encouragement and engagement.
Then again, music has always been part of Newton’s DNA. His great grandmother was one of eight siblings and all of them played instruments -- many of them, more than one -- as part of an informal family band that relished the roots of traditional music. His mother shared the soundtrack of the times -- the Beatles, British rock, folk rock and music that proved so effortlessly engaging, it quickly got under his skin.
Those influences lingered and resonated with Newton from an early age, and by the time he reached his formative years, he had made up his mind that someday he would create music on his own terms and share it with anyone who wanted to listen. And while it took him awhile to realize that goal, he now looks back on the process with a genuine sense of satisfaction.
“I’m just an average guy,” Newton muses. “But, this is something that I knew I was destined to do. Dreams take time to nourish and to flourish. However, the fulfillment that comes with the process can last a lifetime.”