When Yellowcard disbanded after their self-titled album, I didn’t think that would be the end of making music for everyone in the band. William Ryan Key proved me right by releasing Thirteen. While I will always miss the combination of his voice with Sean Mackin on violin, this EP helps to fill the void that was left when Yellowcard ended.
Thirteen consists of five songs and is an all-acoustic EP. As a sucker for acoustic songs (I even own the acoustic version of Ocean Avenue on vinyl), so I was perfectly fine with this when it was first announced. “Old Friends” is the opener and is a wonderful tone-setter for the EP. Acoustic songs have always felt inherently more personal to me, and we all know that William Ryan Key knows how to write those kind of songs.
“Vultures” was released as the sole single for the EP and while it keeps making me think of the song of the same name by John Mayer when I see it, the two have little in common other than the fact that I enjoy both. The song poses the question, “Is it better to have had or to have not?” It just might be a question worth asking yourself and finding out the answer. “Great Unknown” closes out the album with even more questions that make you think. It’s a beautiful song to end the EP with.
The vocals are so clear and Key’s voice really shines on the EP. Because of it’s acoustic nature, the musicianship on the record is lean. Key hasn’t strayed too far from Yellowcard as far as his role in the songwriting goes. Maybe this album isn’t a big surprise or a huge change of pace for him, but it’s still enjoyable.
I didn’t need Thirteen to be something drastically different in order to l love it on first listen. Sometimes it’s the familiar things that bring us a joy and I can say that about this EP with confidence. It’s one of my favorites of the year so far and I imagine it’ll end up at the top of the EPs on my end of the year list.