Once in a while, famous actors try to step into the world of music. They try to reach something more, to success in a different medium. Most of the times, they fail, creating such a superficial sound that would only hit the radio for a few weeks before being entirely extinguished. This is absolutely not the case with Ryan Gosling. Listening to his Halloween thematicband “Dead Man’s Bones” is a delightful experience. It is incredible how can someone be so talented. Gosling proves that he is a beast not just for acting only but for composing and performing as well.
Dead Man’s Bones began with an unusual obsession. Ryan Goslin and his band mate Zach Shields could have been destined to hate each other. Back in 2005, Goslin and Shields were dating sisters. Whilespending so much forced time together, they discovered something that they had in common: an obsession with ghosts. After discovering that mutual passion, Gosling and Shields wanted to do something cool about it. Shields says, “[Dead Man's Bones] first started as a kind of theater play but it turned into what it is now.” (qtd. in Jardine).They thought that the play they intended to make would needmusic, so they decided to learn how to play different instruments. Later on they realized how expensive and difficult it would be to create the show. Gosling and Shields decided to put the play aside and continue with the music. Another very unique trait in this band is they use a choir in their songs. Gosling had been in a children choir before (TWA). So when they decided to make their firstalbum he was determined to have children’s voices in it. The result of all this is the unique, spooky sound of Dead Man’s Bones.
Dead Man’s Bones debut album uses simple instrumentation. Bass, acoustic guitars, drums, tambourine, shakers, piano, steel drums and synthesizers can be heard in the 9 tracks of their debut album. Other sounds can be identified too such as claps, whistles, screams, wolfhowls, creaking doors and walking steps. Overall, the instrumentation is simple and the songs are catchy. Voices play a very important role in Dead Man’s Bones. Besides Ryan Gosling’s awesome vibrato, the Silverlake Children’s Choir suits perfectly to the songs. The music created by all these sounds surrounds you immediately. It is worth noticing how the mood changes when listening to Dead Man’sBones; one becomes fragile to their music. One of the best examples is “Lose Your Soul”. This song includes a clapping intro, an octave piano bass line, Gosling’s spooky voice, and the children choir. What this song makes you feel is almost unexplainable. It is a mixture of fear, certain determination, and happiness.
The lyrics written by Shields and Goslin make reference to some Halloweenconcepts. Words like death, graves, bones, blood, magic, skull, zombie, etc. can be heard in the nine tracks. The lyrics are mostly short, and some of them tell a story instead of singing the lyrics. In both ways, lyrics are profound, beautiful, and terrifying. “Werewolf Heart” would be a perfect example. In this song there is both a singing verse and a beautiful brief story told by a woman that says “Myheart is a prisoner to my ribs.” Certainly, Dead Man’s Bones intended to write something else than catchy phrases (even though their songs are very likeable). They also achieved something that is very important to achieve in writing lyrics: the right connection of words and melody. To create the right mood when singing certain lyrics, words are just not enough, but they have to be congruent withmelody. Gosling’s voice suits perfectly not just for what he sings, but for how he sings it. My favorite example for this would be “My Body is a Zombie For You” I cannot describe the happiness and tenderness you feel when you hear Gosling and the children choir shout “My body is a zombie for you!”
For the recording of their debut album, which is titled just as the band, Gosling and Shield sat...