Music News & Reviews

Lexington 17-year-old shows 'maturity well beyond her years' on solo debut

Lexingtion 17-year-old Rhyan Sinclair has released her solo debut album, "Barnstormer."
Lexingtion 17-year-old Rhyan Sinclair has released her solo debut album, "Barnstormer." The Press House

Following a handful of releases leading the band All the Little Pieces, Lexington-based singer-songwriter Rhyan Sinclair has stormed onto the scene under her own name with her solo debut album "Barnstormer."

Combining touches of Americana, country and pop, the 17-year-old Sinclair shows a maturity well beyond her years on the record, having written or co-written all 14 tracks along with co-producing the record with Jason Groves of The Sneak Attack Recording Co. in Lexington and Sean Giovanni at Nashville’s The Record Shop. However, that’s not where the album’s ties to the Music City end.

"Barnstormer" features a slew of Nashville and Central Kentucky musicians led by multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin and fiddler Lillie Mae, both of whom have worked extensively with Jack White . Other prominent sit-ins include Eliza Mary Doyle, banjo player for Saskatchewan, Canada-based The Dead South, Lexington-based singer-songwriters Whitney Acke and Ray Adams, bassist Jeff Binder, drummer David Grigsby and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Allen, a player with Magnolia Boulevard and Grayson Jenkins & The Resolutions.

Notwithstanding, the most memorable guest appearances may have been from Sinclair’s mother and step-father, Toni and Julian Karpinski, who contributed to harmony and group vocals throughout the album.

From the get-go Sinclair throws all of her musical cards at you on "Barnstormer," from the Dolly Parton-esque “From Here” to the foot-stomping, honky tonk of the title track to “The Sad Song,” a song about writing a slow, sad song. Following is perhaps the album’s most made-for-radio tune, “Retrograde;” a catchy cut mixing hints of Americana and pop with drawn-out background vocals from Toni Karpinski and an infectious bassline from Binder. Inspired by The Beach Boys’ 1966 album Pet Sounds, “Retrograde” illustrates Sinclair’s maturity as a songwriter , offering an introspective look at herself about being in and needing to get out of a funk: “Stuck under a dark cloud and I’ve got to get out / Lately all it does is rain / Lately I’ve been feeling pain / I’ve got to get to feeling better.”

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Other stand-outs on "Barnstormer" include the Lillie Mae-collaborated “Cold Summer’s Day,” the spoon-infused chaos of “Skeleton Sam” and “What Time is it in California?,” a vocal and clap driven tune Sinclair began writing following consecutive trips to California in 2017.

Throughout "Barnstormer," Sinclair shows a versatility and maturity that is unparalleled by most artists, much less those her age. With ample time still to learn and grow, with roots already planted in Nashville, Sinclair is poised to be one of the next star musicians to emerge from the Commonwealth.

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Rhyan Sinclair

What: Album release show with openers Grayson Jenkins and Dave Ernst & The Early Favorites

When: 5 p.m. July 1

Where: The Burl, 375 Thompson Road

Tickets: $10; $15 ages 21 and younger