Forced to file for bankruptcy in late 2011, and in the aftermath of a collapsed relationship, Ryan MacGrath decided to take a chance on a fresh start by following a man he’d known for less than six months to Austria. “I had this grand vision of a wonderful new life, but it took less than a week for reality to set in: I had no source of income, I was thousands of miles away from my friends and family, and I could not speak the language – I felt isolated”. The Pink Lark, MacGrath’s new record, is a reflection on his recent experience of falling apart and chasing love from the salty shores of Nova Scotia, Canada to the mountain-guarded valley of Innsbruck, Austria. The six-song E.P. is a stripped-down recording which exposes MacGrath’s passionate voice, and reveals both its strength and vulnerability. Whereas his award-winning 2010 LP, Cooper Hatch Paris, was like a no holds barred theatrical production, The Pink Lark finds the artist backstage, curtain closed and costume off. “My last record was grandiose on so many levels, full of bells and whistles, and very hi-fi”. Out of necessity MacGrath had to take a more restrained and less fantastical approach when making his new record. Fighting his nature to want to add layers and layers of melodies and instruments, he was forced to scale back. “This time around, I thought something more lo-fi and raw would make sense with the songs and with my situation. The Pink Lark isn’t quite lo-fi, and it certainly isn’t hi-fi; it’s mid-fi”.
Working with seasoned Austrian musician, Chris Vano, MacGrath has composed a stark and contemplative record (he also painted its cover art) comprised of songs that narrate his journey. “The Ticket”, the record’s opener, tells of cautious steps towards new love. “Kiss Me Tonight” describes a romantic, wooded rendezvous where blood is rushing and minds are racing. In “The Darkside”, MacGrath confronts his demons head-on in hopes of finding answers. “Sahib”, an up-tempo Blues-inspired song, finds Ryan pleading for a sanctum, a place either physical or metaphorical where there may be relief from the confines of self-doubt. In “After All”, the artist laments the apparent struggles of a relationship that’s on the brink of burning out or burning bright. The Pink Lark closes with “Speechless”. Recorded in one take using one microphone, it’s the most intimate and vulnerable of the collection, and sees MacGrath pondering defeat and wondering what next.
Ryan MacGrath is a multiple music award nominee (East Coast Music Awards, Canada) and Best Alternative Album winner (Nova Scotia Music Awards, Canada) from Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has written and performed songs for feature film, television, and documentaries, and has been an active member of the Canadian music scene since 2008. MacGrath is currently based out of Innsbruck, Austria. The Pink Lark E.P. (2013) is his third recording following his debut full-length Cooper Hatch Paris (2010) and 2009’s In My Own Company E.P.