In a traditional Tarot card deck, there’s a card called The Fool on which a traveller steps confidently, but perhaps foolishly, into the unknown. His face is pointed toward the sky, his eyes are closed, and the sun rises behind him. The card generally represents a new beginning and signals change ahead — something that’s either exciting or risky, depending on how optimistic you choose to be about it.
That seems to be the choice Ryn Weaver is trying to make on her debut album The Fool, out Tuesday (June 16). On its most technical level, it’s guitar pop flavored with synthesizers and polished with striking hooks and crisp production courtesy of Benny Blanco and Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos.
But peel away the layers, and you’ll see that the MTV Artist to Watch specializes in songs that juxtapose dark secrets against starry-eyed melodies. Make no mistake — these are tension-filled songs about falling in and out of love, coming to grips with your own restlessness and contradictions, and deciding how to forge the path ahead.
"I thought the first record there’s so many anxieties going into it that I just was thinking, ‘What do I want to do? And what do I want to create?” Weaver told MTV News. “I was like, ‘I’m just going to lay out some truth here because at least then if nobody likes it, I know it’s my story and I’m proud.’”
Conflicted as the album may be, though, damned if it isn’t also arrestingly beautiful. There’s the undeniably Fleetwood Mac vibes on “Here Is Home,” the ominous distortion of “Runaway,” and the glimmering synth pop earworm “The Fool.” But the standouts cater to that overarching theme of wanderlust that’s perfect for breezy summertime drives. Take these four essential tracks for instance:
It takes until the eighth track on The Fool for Weaver to give some kind of inkling that she’s finally found it: liberating, uncomplicated love that has her singing, “Hallelujah, believe/Hear my heart beat major keys/Nothing competes when love is free.” She finally seems happy, but don’t expect it to last for long.
"I think it comes from a space of losing a very bad love or running away from a really negative experience and kind of finding your freedom and regaining yourself,” Weaver told MTV News about her emotional journey through the album. “But with that regaining yourself with the help of someone else… the arch is this sad thing where you find everything you wanted but maybe you’re not ready for it. Because maybe you’re now too proud of the freedom you cultivated. “
2. “Traveling Song”
For the last 30 seconds of “Traveling Song” — the album’s most stripped-down track by a mile — Weaver sing-speaks a folky, a cappella farewell. Her quivering vibrato literally shakes with vulnerability, and it’s starting, strange and beautiful all at once.
3. “Stay Low”
The is the kind of floaty, vibe-y track that’s tailor-made for summer nights where “the records lay low,” the “sun goes way low,” and you take a drive simply to clear your mind and feel alive.
4. "New Constellations"
On the track just before this one, “Here Is Home,” Weaver teased the idea that she may be settling into herself. But the album’s finale makes it clear she’s still looking for somewhere new to go. “It’s hard to believe that it’s wrong to want more/Than the truest of blue and a love like a roar,” she sings, justifying her quest to keep on keepin’ on. The song ends a pair of nagging phrases — “You can run if you want to” and “What if there’s more?” are frantically layered on top of each other until Weaver convinces herself she's not done running yet. And that’s a good thing, because it sounds like she has plenty more to say.
"I like the idea of people being empowered by it,” Weaver told us. “I think there is a dreamer element to it and the ability to be able to forge your own path, and wandering and traveling and figuring things out. And kind of realizing that it’s OK that you’re figuring it out and nobody knows where they’re going. It’s a long road and sometimes you have to make mistakes for yourself. And if that’s the case, then go, live your life.”