Written By Kelly Holm
Chastising Cupid is hardly a novel idea in popular music, but Irish singer-songwriter Ryan McMullan is putting his own modern spin on this classic trope.
After a few years of releasing songs like the confessional “Letting Go for a Little While” and the folksy “Rebellion,” McMullan’s new EP Ruthless Cupid is full of tracks dedicated to putting the mischievous cherub in his place.
“Oh honey come back, you never told me your name/I should’ve known it would always end up this way,” he sings on the titular tune, “Ruthless Cupid.”
“Oh Cupid, I’m stupid for listening/You’re ruthless with this goose chasing over me.”
Despite a rhythm that’s slightly reminiscent of the similarly-titled 1958 Connie Francis hit “Stupid Cupid,” the track is more tense than playful. Full of dark energy, a rock beat and perhaps a bit of a Pearl Jam-lite vibe, it will bring anyone back to the angst of their first unrequited love.
“The production [for Ruthless Cupid ] is a lot different [than previous releases],” McMullan shared. “Sonically it seems more structured, but the songs stylistically are aimed at Cupid rather as opposed to myself or my life… I want [fans] to take away something they see or feel in themselves. It’s really all about their connection.”
Ruthless Cupid drops today, less than a year after McMullan’s Live EP, recorded at Belfast’s Ulster Hall. At heart, he says both of his EPs are concept records.
“The Live EP was really selfish, as I wanted to record a piece of my career in a place that holds so much heritage,” McMullan said. “With Ruthless Cupid it is a concept EP again, selfish because I had the idea to call out Cupid. I’m very fortunate that the people who follow me and listen to my music also let me be self-indulgent. Hopefully [my upcoming] album is my way of paying them back.”
McMullan’s latest single from Ruthless Cupid is “In a Heartbeat.”
“It’s really just about realizing something is over, but knowing it still has its claws in you,” he says of the song. “Everyone’s been there… it was the catalyst to becoming the EP, the first song written and recorded.”
Though an apt comparison to McMullan would be Ed Sheeran, he takes inspiration from novel sources such as Prince and Kanye West and is known to experiment with a variety of production and musical styles. He’ll never play the same song exactly the same way twice.
“‘Bowie on the Radio’ has always been a really enjoyable song to play, whether I’m solo, on piano, as a two-piece [or] three-piece and right up to full band,” he says.
After all the milestones McMullan has checked off his bucket list, it’s safe to say he’s come a long way since he and his friends performed “Sweet Child O’Mine” at a childhood talent show. He’s headlined the Ulster Hall, earned praise from Foy Vance… and overheard an elderly couple say, “I really like his singing, but does he have to be so loud?”
Well, how else are you going to get your voice heard? In all seriousness, though, McMullan’s lengthy resume of musical accomplishments would make his young self proud. If you’re in Ireland or the UK and are itching to see him, he’s got a handful of tour dates lined up for this summer, so cross your fingers that they’ll still be good to go!
In this time of social distancing, though, take to heart these lyrics from one of McMullan’s favorite songs he’s ever written:
“I know you’re sad, but please don’t cry/After all, it’s not goodbye/We’re just letting go for a little while.”
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