Toronto singer-songwriter Ryan Burger has lived more lifetimes in the past two years than most people ever will. On his sophomore album The More They Stay The Same, he offers listeners his gentle epiphanies from the road trip of a lifetime. The record, featuring lead single “Running Through Your Heart,” is everywhere now.
Burger embarked on his adventure amidst the 2021 lockdown, initially seeking solace at a homesteading festival in Michigan. Several chance encounters propelled him through a whirlwind journey across the Midwest USA. After accepting an invitation to an Ohio pig roast, he traversed Western Michigan, and detoured to Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, where he indulged in a Titans game and found meaningful connections with fellow musicians. A missed connection during his flight to Cleveland briefly stranded him in Orlando, yet he eventually made it to the long-awaited pig roast. Finally, he found his way to Arrowhill Farm in New Era, Michigan, where Troy—a farmer, musician, producer, and recording engineer—welcomed him despite not actively seeking assistance at the time.
“After a couple of months, when it was evident that I would be there a while, Troy and I started discussing making a record,” Burger recalls. “One thing led to another and next thing I know I’m shoveling goat crap by day and creating an album by night. We finished the album just in the knick of time before my visa expired and almost exactly 2 years later here we are with the finished product!”
As he was working on the album, Burger began realizing that he was inadvertently creating a spiritual sequel to his debut album Everything Must Change. Despite intending a fresh chapter, Burger grappled with an essential core to his work.
“There were things I did on my first album, both good and bad, that I did again on this album,” he explains. “Whether it was vocally, or with arrangement or production decisions, I found myself feeling that perhaps I hadn’t changed as much as I thought I had. Not just musically, but as a person as well. I grow and I adapt and I develop but at the end of the day I am still me and my past is always my past.”
Where Everything Must Change saw Burger looking for purpose and fulfillment in all sorts of vices, The More They Stay The Same kicks off with him showing those old ways out the door. Indeed, on the opening track he simply throws up “Deuces” to the dead-end passions of his youth, before then steering in a more wholesome, entirely new direction. Burger sings about the transformed heart of a man who adopts a daughter on standout track two “I’ll Raise You As My Own”, followed by his best advice and wishes for little ones everywhere on “Before You Lay Your Head.”
The next four songs wind through his personal accounts of love lost and found (“Dance With Me,” “Running Through Your Heart”), then hope acquired and strenuously maintained (“Groundwork for Love” and “My Rightful Place”). Finally, Burger turns the lens lyrically on his audience, closing with the question, “What Have You Got To Lose”– That is, where does fear of the unknown keep you from setting off on a similar great adventure of your own?
“Just like my musical style, my writing covers a wide range of topics,” says Burger, “From love and romance to deeper musings about the meaning of life and the state of the world. I often attempt to be self aware and analytical of my thoughts and behaviour in my writing. It acts as a form of therapy, but also a way to hold myself accountable, and to hopefully encourage the listener to really look within and engage with the things they need to change in order to grow. I hope that my music is first of all enjoyable, but that it also somehow can improve listeners’ lives.”
All at once introspective, optimistic, and seasoned by life, Ryan Burger’s music is an offering and a gift. The More They Stay The Same is a must listen.