Photos and Story by Makayla Boling / Contributing Writer
MTSU student Ryan Cluff debuted his EP, entitled “Life/Sleep,” at The Laundry Room, a local music venue, Saturday.
Cluff was accompanied by fellow musicians Henry Paul MacAfee and Alyse Morgan. MacAfee opened the show with a smooth, moody performance of both original and cover songs, while Morgan provided a light and romantic performance fitting for the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. She was accompanied by boyfriend Jake Smith on keys and harmonies. The two opening artists set the mood for Cluff to debut all the tracks off his new EP, along with a few well-known singles.
“Life/Sleep” is Cluff’s debut EP, including a mix of different styles all enhanced by Cluff’s contagious and quirky personality. The first track, “Sara,” opens the album on a groovy note. The song is about being sick of someone, a feeling most people can relate to. The guitar rhythm is one that keeps the audience guessing where it’s gonna go next, and then it transitions suddenly to a repeating breakdown of “My baby loves me, my baby don’t care, well … ” This encouraged audience participation, and The Laundry Room crowd delivered.
The next track Cluff performed off the EP is entitled “SLC (Happier Than Me)” and is a song about his hometown. The song is sarcastic and resentful but with the perfect amount of cheer thrown in. It calls out people we all know: the social media queen, the guy who turned his life around and will make sure everyone knows and the successful show-off who won’t hesitate to tell you about his promotion whether you asked him or not. This track had the audience bursting into waves of laughter, the energy around the room spreading to everyone there.
The title track of the EP, “Life/Sleep,” is “an exploration into what it means to be alive.” This one is a break from the fun and delves into topics that are meant to resonate with the audience. It’s about doing anything to feel something, even if that takes abusing a substance just to be happy. At the end, Cluff captivated the audience with an emotional yell, asking, “Shouldn’t life be more than breathing?”
After doing what he does best and making the audience all think about the meaning of life, Cluff built the mood back up again with “Red Lights.” This is arguably his most positive song, with a quick guitar melody to accompany the message. Work hard, love your neighbor even if they hate you and keep going even though your tired. This song is a fun mix of whistling, woohoos, mouth trumpet and rhythmic clapping from the audience.
In another heavy track, “Dandelions,” Cluff discusses “the process of being diagnosed with something and learning how to deal with that.” The song lists ways to cope, such as exercise or eating fruit but how those things don’t always work for everyone. This tied into the next track, “Glad I Still Breathe,” which is not on the EP. It’s a song for suicide awareness, providing a glimpse into the mind of someone who has attempted or thought about committing suicide: “I pulled the trigger, but I’m glad I still breathe.”
The last track on the EP is a positive sounding song but with a heavier message. “A Prayer (Obsessed)” is about struggling with addiction, whether that addiction is a substance, a significant other or even a cell phone. It’s about how people will go to such lengths, even injuring themselves, to get a taste of what they need, even if it isn’t good for them.
Cluff showcases his talent and way with words on his new EP, “Life/Sleep.” The EP deals with everything from love, to breakups, to addiction and suicide. As a performer, Cluff can effectively read his audience and turn even the saddest songs into a good time. He is an act that will make you think deeply while dancing and clapping your Saturday night away.
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