SALT LAKE CITY — Ryan Innes remembers watching an old interview with David Bowie. In the interview, Bowie offered up this bit of wisdom to artists: “Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
That’s the space Innes said he tried to occupy on “The Inbetween,” his debut full-length album, which comes out to pre-order customers on April 6 and elsewhere on April 13. Innes, a Salt Lake City resident, got national attention in 2013 for his stint on NBC’s “The Voice.” One might have expected Innes to strike while the iron was hot, but he’s released almost no new music between then and now.
“I knew that I needed to do it right. I needed to do it on a big scale,” Innes said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “I didn’t want to just put something up and tell my friends on Facebook.”
In some ways, Innes is glad he waited this long — his identity isn’t as tied up in “The Voice” at this point. And he’s managed to maintain his local popularity over the past five years, thanks in part to regular gigs and a knack for social media. Still, five years is a long time in a burgeoning young career. Public expectations can wither. Perhaps worse yet, they can solidify.
“I’m known as a soul singer and was on a TV show that all about ‘The Voice.’ Everything was about my voice,” Innes said.
On “The Inbetween,” Innes said he wanted to subvert these kinds of expectations. The album’s 11 songs regularly feature ambitious arrangements and bold production choices. This isn’t standard soul music.
Sometimes, his vocals find their way into the mix in atypical ways — an effort, Innes said, to treat his voice as an instrument in every sense of the word. As such, Innes’ lead vocals aren’t always the focal point of each song. And in general, his vocals on “The Inbetween” show considerable restraint for someone with Innes’ vocal power.
“We didn’t entirely go away from it, but it wasn’t an Adele record,” he said.
“And it was a hard-fought battle,” Innes continued. “There was a lot of self-doubt on it, a lot of overthinking and rethinking. But ultimately, when I sit down and listen to it … I’m so glad we went that direction.”Comment on this story
This approach, Innes said, is something he’s learning to grow into. He doesn’t consider “The Inbetween” to be perfect in that sense. To borrow Bowie’s metaphor, sometimes Innes’ feet aren’t quite touching the bottom.
“I didn’t paint it picture-perfect here for someone to be like, ‘I know who that guy is,’” Innes said. “I made it a little more human in that it’s complicated and evolving.”
If you go …
What: Ryan Innes “The Inbetween” album release
When: Friday, April 6, doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: Velour Live Music Gallery, 135 N. University Ave., Provo
How much: $12.50