Review: Speak Low If You Speak Love’s “Everything But What You Need”

Posted 4 years ago by Joel Funk

I don’t think I’m speaking too broadly when I say that there is a small part of all of us that enjoys listening to sad songs. There’s just something about knowing for a few solid minutes, you can get some form of cathartic release without having to do much more than press play. With the upcoming release of Everything But What You Need, Speak Low If You Speak Love, the solo venture of Good Luck Varsity’s Ryan Graham, has effortlessly mastered the craft.

The album opens up with “Art School”, a shorter song that seems to actually serve as a great introduction, almost summarizing the stories that are about to be told to us. Lines like “My friends all tell me that I’ve changed/Forgot my roots/And lost my way” inform the listener that throughout this whole process, whether it be ours (listening to the album) or Ryan’s (writing/recording the album) he has definitely changed, and he’s about to let us know how. The song ends with a resonating “I’m allowed to be as sad as you” and I couldn’t help but agree.

The follow up track, “Knots”, should do nothing shy of leave a few of those in your stomach. “Knots” shows us Graham chasing an unrequited love, painting this picture with “You can see every single vein on the back of my hand/As I wait for you to tell me you love me” and “History repeats itself/Just like an old friend/It tells the same story since we were kids”, both of which lead up to a powerful, emotional delivery of the line “I reserve the right to change the ending this time.” This, clearly, tells us the story of the chase. I promise you that when you hear him singing that line, you will get butterflies, you will get crazy, and you will feel all of the emotion he has packed into this performance.

Next, we’re presented with “Eight Weeks”, which is a beautiful piece of music. This song screams Taylor Swift in the best way possible. Just listen to it, I promise you will hear it too. He continues this with “A List of Things”. However, this song is more Graham not allowing himself to even let this relationship come to fruition. The lyrics tell of a torn boy wanting to let love blossom, but letting past experience get in the way. Everything about this song is just beautiful: the lyrics, the music, the vocal delivery.

We are then graced with what is easily one of my favorite songs on the album, “Ruined.” The song just sounds a little more light hearted, and will have you tapping your toes. You just want to grab your library lover and sing “It’s all your fault, and I’ll always blame you/I dreamt a life for us and it could’ve come true/But you packed all your things and said ‘We’re through’/Cos you ruined me and I ruined you.”

We then make our way through the near two minutes of “Locking Lips” and find ourselves thrown into the gut of “Confusion.” Confusion is one of those songs that is great just because it is. With lyrics that are just begging to be photoshopped over some serene landscape/ocean photo, it’s sure to be a hit. If you’re not singing “It’s always the places you hate that make us who we are” and “If you could see me from where you stand, I’d still be the monster you think that I am”, I don’t want to know you.

“Guess and Check” is another one of those more light hearted sounding songs. This song is just one beautiful nostalgia trip. This is one of those songs that if it came on the radio, I don’t think there’s a soul that would hate it. Sure, a lot of people would pretend to, but that’s nothing. For a long time, I pretended to hate Taylor Swift, and now I have no problem telling you that I’m feeling 22.

“Naive” follows this song, and completely steals the show. This is not only my favorite song on the record, but it’s one of the best songs I have ever heard. From the second I first heard Ryan sing “You ruined all my favorite bands”, I knew I was going to love this song. At just shy of two minutes, this song is one of the shorter ones, but easily one of the most moving. I want to tell you all just how much I love this song, but no words can do it justice. I’m just so in love with it.

The record comes to a close with “Tiny Furnace”, which is five minutes and forty one seconds of closure. Singing along to this song is the best way to close the record, and by the time you’re through you feel as if the album is complete. You’re not left with a “Where’s the rest of this record?” feel. 

Everything But What You Need is a beautiful listen. I truly believe there is not a soul that can not find at least one song that they like on this record, because let’s face it, we’ve all broken hearts and had ours shattered. This is a record that could launch Speak Low If You Speak Love into something more than I think we comprehend right now. This is easily one of the most fluid, easy, and complete feeling albums I have ever listened to. I wish nothing but the best for Ryan as he continues to release music under this name. Hopefully, this record serves as the introduction the public needs to Speak Low If You Speak Love.

An easy five/five.