The Bay Area, husband and wife duo of Melissa Lyn and Ryan Clark have come together under the name On Dolphin to release their debut album titled "Layers." After years of acoustic gigs in local coffee shops and cafes, Melissa had higher aspirations and Ryan was building his record business and the timing was perfect for them to collaborate on this new album. Beginning with "More Good Days," the album starts off with these wonderfully, gentle pop sounds, before diving into Melissa's exquisite song-writing with "Dance In The Kitchen" and "Worth The Drive." Her warming vocals during "New York" will have you following her every word, before bringing out the country tones of "Together." The album finishes with the acoustic folk delivery of "Slowdown" and the lullaby feel of "Let A Little Light." To find out more about On Dolphin and their latest release "Layers," please visit ondolphin.com.
Here's the debut effort from On Dolphin, a four-piece fronted by singer Melissa Lyn and rounded out by Lyn's husband Ryan Clark on drums, Nathan Dennen on keys and Anderai Maldonado on bass. The group and assorted friends recorded the album's 10 cuts in "retreat-style" sessions and the relaxed nature of the setting comes through in the music. Lyn sings "More Good Days" by herself but there is something about the song that recalls the sublime harmonies of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and "Dance in the Kitchen" references sunshine lyrically and with its slow but shimmering melody. A loping cowboy-on-the-trail rhythm flavors "Worth the Drive," and "New York," a song about trying to follow-up on a desire to leave the city, is decorated with mournful violin parts that heighten the song's mood of uncertainty. Lyn has a voice that's easy to get comfy with and all the arrangements are mellow; dress in these Layers and for 35-minutes or so you'll be absolutely carefree.
On Dolphin relesaes their debut album "Layers". An interview with Melissa Lyn. "We came up with the band name by accident, it certainly wasn’t on porpoise."
West coast band "on dolphin" has just released their debut album "Layers". Drawing on multiple creative writing environments, the ensemble has a nice polished collection of songs that are nicely produced with lush vocals and catchy instrumentation. Singer Melissa Lyn states "Drummer and producer Ryan Clark has a great ear for what works". This is apparent on Layers because the album flows as smooth as the San Francisco bay on a calm day. The tracks were recorded at their home studio as well as Hyde Street Studios, where classic albums from Creedence, CSNY, and The Grateful Dead were created. Melissa explains that "San Francisco has many resources for growing musicians, and a great community of friends who all support each other. Layers also came out on limited edition vinyl. I asked Melissa Lyn about the process of making the album.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new album Release "Layers". Apart from the wonderful layered harmonies and instruments of the CD... What's behind the title?
M.L. - The theme of Layers has been front and center since coming to San Francisco, layers from my past buried under layers of new experiences, layers of clothes required to get through a foggy summer, and peeling away layers of expectations to get to layers of truth.
R.V.B. - In the opening track "More Good Days", the lyrics state that you need to see, feel and be everything. It's a great attitude. Do you have a constant yearning for exploration?
M.L. - More Good Days is partly about exploring, making new paths, driving down a road you’ve never been down before… it’s also about being in the moment wherever you are and feeling a connection to what’s around you.
R.V.B. - Track 9 "Slowdown" features wonderful fingerpicking and soothing instrumental nuances... does everyone need to slow down and enjoy one thing at a time?
M.L. - My mind is always busy, Slowdown is a bit of a mantra, a reminder to relax and not to worry about everything.
R.V.B. - On "Worth the Drive" I noticed beautiful instrumental arpeggio's. Tell me a little bit about the production work that went into making this collection of songs.
M.L. - Ryan Clark is the drummer for on dolphin, he also produced and recorded our debut album LAYERS. He’s got a great ear for what works, what doesn’t and how to highlight a song’s best features. He created the arpeggio bass line for Worth the Drive late at night, and recorded it as a demo so he wouldn’t forget the part before going to sleep… after hearing it the next day we decided to keep it on the record.
Scott McDowell engineered the drums at Hyde Street Studio C (the same room many classic rock albums were made. CCR -cosmos factory, Grateful Dead -american beauty, and part of CSNY -deja vu to name a few).
Everything else was recorded in our home studio in San Francisco. On Worth The Drive we have acoustic and electric guitars, xylophone, bass, violin, cello, keyboards and layers of vocals. Once tracking was finished we headed to Buzzbomb Sound Labs where Paul Miner mixed the album. Shelly Steffens mastered the album before sending it off to Pirates Press to package the vinyl.
We were honored to work with many talented friends to create the additional layers. Ryan really connected with each musician to get the right sound and feel out of their instrument.
R.V.B. - Visiting New York is always a lot of fun and can be a little overwhelming with all the things you can do and see. I get the feeling in this song that it's hard to leave the excitement and go back home. Was this true for you?
M.L. - New York is literally about being stuck in an airport. Maybe that takes away from the romance...
R.V.B. - Can you tell me about some of the band members and how they helped on this project?
M.L. - Anderai and Nathan joined the band this summer. The songs continue to evolve and adapt for live performances and we are working together on new songs for the next album.
R.V.B. - How do you enjoy the musical vibe of the San Francisco area?
M.L. - San Francisco has many resources for growing musicians, and a great community of friends who all support each other. it’s a pretty small town in that way.
R.V.B. - I read in your bio that some of the songs were born in a barn and others in a more cramped space. Did the different environments create a different outcome in the writing process of a song?
M.L. - The barn birthed dreamy songs like Dance in the Kitchen and Layers. The songs created in the confined spaces of the city have a bit more angst, like More good days and Together.
R.V.B. - Did anything come from your trip to Africa that may have made it into your music?
M.L. - Worth the Drive and Layers both started as poems written on a bus while driving across Tanzania. I spent a lot of time on the road there, lots of time to appreciate the journey across a new continent, and the journey in and out of my head.
R.V.B. - What are some of your live performances that stick out for you?
M.L. - We just played our album release show at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco in July. The energy there was great. We shared the bill with a few of our favorite local bands; SEED LING and Mayya & The Revolutionary Hell Yeah! as well as Valley Queen who were touring from LA. The room was filled with friends, we all had a good time.
R.V.B. - How did you get involved in music in the beginning? Was there any event or influence that drove you into music?
M.L. - My dad plays guitar, and I spent a lot of time singing in the car on road trips with my grandparents. I played many instruments in the school band before buying my uncle’s sparkly red Epiphone electric guitar. I played with friends in high school and then set it down for a while. Later I picked up a nylon string acoustic and started writing. When I moved to San Francisco, the community here encouraged me to get out and play.
R.V.B. - What are your plans to support the album?
M.L. - We are playing shows around the bay area and putting together a California tour in the fall, we also have a music video coming out soon.
R.V.B. - What is behind the band name "On Dolphin"?
M.L. - We came up with the band name by accident, it certainly wasn’t on porpoise...
Thank you for listening!
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
broadcast on KKUP-FM
hosted by Don Campau
14 August 2016 part 2
KKUP Edition> 2nd and 4th Sundays 3-5 PM, on KKUP, 91.5FM
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For those not in the know, Layers is the quite brilliant debut album from San Francisco indie rock band, and fantastically-named ensemble On Dolphin. Featuring Melissa Lyn, along with Anderai Maldonado (bass), Nathan Dennen (keys) and Ryan Clark (drums), the band's music has been described as "Indie rock for people that are hopeful and curious".
Exploring the evolution of ideas from curiosity and experience to belief's and knowledge, finding comfort within the structures of family and community whilst making space to be, Layersbegins with the folk trip "More Good Days" ("I need to see a little more, of everything, I need to feel a little more, of everything"), and follows that up with the more mellow "Dance In The Kitchen", the foot-tappin' title track "Layers", and the drive time storytelling of "Worth The Drive".
The sublime "New York" is one of the true stand out highlights on this album for me and showcases On Dolphin, as an ensemble, quite like no other track dare come close to. Lyn's vocals are lush, the orchestration behind her simplistically perfect, the created sound, as a whole, just perfection. The acoustic guitar work and raw drum combo of "Inventing Fences" is refreshing also, and that is followed by both the subdued indie rocker "Together" and the fanciful "Laugh It Off".
This excellent debut album - I mean seriously, how does a debut album turn out this bloody good these days?! - is then brought to a close with the gentle acoustic guitar, finger strummin' play (from Lyn) on "Slowdown", before the last track, the stunning piano ballad "Let A Little Light" wraps the whole project up beautifully. With key work from John Elliott, the track is yet another prime example of just how good Melissa Lyn, and On Dolphin, are.
Hopefully, by having now read this review, you have been educated in their ways, their sounds and are overly curious to check them out some more for yourself. I truly hope so for On Dolphin's music is, especially given that this debut album is also on a VINYL LP, music you definitely need playing in your front room on days/evenings like these.
As for that noted VINYL LP, well, Layers has been released as a YELLOW vinyl with only 100 pressed. So, it is super Limited Edition in a super special custom package, and has been pressed on a premium 180 gram vinyl. It also includes a CD & free digital download of the full album, if you feel the need!
But wait, there's more, for Layers has ALSO been released on high quality 180 gram CLEAR vinyl, which also includes a digital download of the full album!
ON DOLPHIN/Layers: Remember when you first wanted to like Sheryl Crow but thought she should’ve been a little rougher and less commercial? Melissa Lyn has her finger right on the vibe you were looking for. Getting in touch with her hippie side and dropping out of the real world when things started getting stupid for her, she’s made the journey that so many yearn for and seems to have made it from one end of the map to the other successfully. Maybe Crow just needed to be more alt to capture the ears that are easily going to be captured here. Check it out. A vinyl release, of course.
Hey, tell us a bit about the new single.
Worth the Drive was written on the road to the Serengeti. I was in the middle of a 4 week trip across East Africa. Reflecting on life back home, the journey I was on, and the changing landscapes around me.
What did you get from the writing process?
The song also relates to the evolution of the album LAYERS. I previously performed as a solo artist and spent the last few years working with my husband Ryan Clark (the album’s producer) to develop these songs with full instrumentation. It was a new process for me and at times very challenging. We learned a lot, not just about the music, but about ourselves.
The hard work, patience, and persistence paid off as we grew into a full band adding Nathan Dennen on Keys and Anderai Maldonado on Bass, and released LAYERS, our debut full length vinyl album. I’d say it was definitely “Worth the Drive”.