Ryan Dugré – The Humors [Birdwatcher Records]


Ryan Dugré is a freelance guitarist and multi-instrumentalist based in New York City. He has recorded and toured with several pop & indie bands as well as performing live in such wide ranging settings as Le Festival d’été de Québec, Bonnaroo, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, BBC 6 Radio with Marc Riley, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, and Eliot Fisk’s Boston GuitarFest at New England Conservatory of Music of which Dugré is a graduate. He is also a solo recording artist with a newly released second album called The Humors, a title referencing the ancient medical system based on the theory that one’s health and emotional well-being is determined by the balance of the body’s four fluids, or humors, each of which corresponds to an aspect of temperament. Dugré explains how he attempted to translate this concept to music:

“I wrote everything on the guitar. A lot of the songs are in alternate tunings that I kind of stumbled into. This helped me connect what I was hearing in my head to my hands in a different way than I was used to. Certainly not a new technique, but it helped me remove myself from standard movements on the guitar…I had been thinking a lot about this idea of balance in a song, balance of an album. Staying aware of what types of sounds happen when, and how even small tweaks affect the listening experience. Sometimes, taking a little sweet away and adding more sharp was the move, and other times it was the opposite.” 

Right from the off, the album maintains a fine sense of equilibrium between all of its moods and components. The songs have a meditative and mellifluous quality that makes them easy on the ear, yet they never quite settle into predictability as Dugré holds our attention with mesmerizing arpeggiated patterns, subtle feints in unexpected directions, and deft, sophisticated layering of sonic elements including contributions from musical guests – Ian Mclellan Davis (string trio arrangements), Eric Lane (synths on “Mateo Alone” and “High Cloud.”), Ian Chang (drums on “High Cloud”), and Jeremy Gustin (drums on “In Tall Grass,”). Measured against its driving concept, The Humors gets a clean of bill health and makes a fine listening companion as the warmth of spring finally promises to thaw the waning days of winter.

Links:   Bandcamp (cassette/digital)  |  Ryan Dugré website

The Humors is now available digitally and on cassette via Birdwatcher Records and features artwork & photography by Annette Wong.