Ryan O’Neal has found great success in his relatively short career by creating music for the concepts of other artists. However, his own musical side projects are undervalued by comparison.
His scores can be found in motion pictures, car commercials, and music videos alike. Each one is unique, yet unified stylistically with a fondness of narrative and an emo tinge.
He wields his musical tools masterfully, carefully curating his music and lyrics for each project. These tools never appear predictably within his albums; they are as diverse as the topics he chooses to muse upon.
Every note, chord, and rest is specifically written to elicit a particular emotion or experience from the listener.
Precise and careful, yet eloquent and efficient, the Sleeping at Last project exemplifies everything music should do for its audience. Through beauty, and the expert use of the mechanics of song, Sleeping at Last seeks only to provide fundamentally universal experiences that everybody can learn from. Though his goal seems lofty, O’Neal achieves it splendidly.
You find yourself so comfortable in the worlds he creates that sometimes you forget the one you’re actually in.
He is captivating in the simplest sense.
His albums, aptly dubbed ‘atlases,’ begin describing our entire universe at its most basic level — light and dark — and move through increasing levels of complexity. His current project seeks to tackle the human psyche through the Enneagram of Personality.
Even though he has spent the better part of the last three years serenading objects from throughout the solar system and beyond, beauty is the string that ties his separate works together into a cohesive whole. His music allows the audience to discover, and constantly rediscover, the beauty in all things.
O’Neal asks you to feel the joy that simple sunlight shining through curtains brings; to exonerate the regret that comes from the “reckless and honest words” leaving our mouths. And at his request, on clear nights, you should take the time to look at the moon as if you had never seen it before.
O’Neal writes only for others. His music exists simply to gift others the beauty of the unknown.
For what greater gift can there be than to allow us to feel wonder for wonder’s sake?
No longer just in the background or periphery, O’Neal deserves every last ounce of recognition for his tireless, incredible work. And you, dear reader, deserve to see the beauty in everything, and possibly even yourself.