Tyler Ramsey's album A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea is a sleepy eclectic mix of guitar, piano and strings, along with input from the omnichord, vibraphone and pedal steel. However, Ramsey has enough discipline to keep the folk acoustic guitar the focus of his music and is currently opening for the bearded boys Band of Horses.
Ramsey has a ragged, old-friend quality to his music, evocative more of metaphysical landscapes and forgotten lifestyles than the typical acoustic fare of politics, lovers and broken relationships. In spite of the beatnik feel of the music, it by no means sounds ragged. Ramsey's frighteningly complex picking and strumming lead one to wonder how many tracks are recorded over one another and if he can really do that in person.
"Once in Your Life" features lulling reverb and ethereal, pinging bells as Ramsey repeats the refrain "They say that once in your life you're meant to find true love." Halfway through, a driving four-by-four beat interrupts the slumber, and the song ends with frenzied banjo-style guitar and a euphoric "All I got to do is get drunk / All I got to do is get high."
"Birdwings" is an instrumental that outstrips some of the other traditional chorus-verse songs, even catchier. "These Days" is a contender for best song on the album. Not an ounce of flab on it: It's fit, nostalgic and as good a song as Neil Young or Patrick Park ever wrote.
Vocally, Ramsey has neither mastered the wrenching sadness of Darren Jessee, frontman of Hotel Lights, nor the conversational friendly warbles of Rocky Votolato. But without being great expressively, the vocals are still rich in sheer tonal quality, which is true of the entire album—intricate, careful craftsmanship.
With this album, as well as his previous work as keyboardist for an Ashville-based funk trio in the late nineties, Ramsey has guaranteed that his work is always impeccable.