As most artists will attest, careers take time. Those appearing to be overnight wonders have often spent years working towards a goal while laboring well below the radar. Yet when they do garner public awareness, it‘s almost as if they’ve appeared out of nowhere, belying the fact they’ve spent years mastering their craft. They often struggle to capture attention, but only they know all the effort that it took to bring their music some well-deserved recognition.
Robert Ranson can testify to that fact all too well. His lifelong dedication to making music began with his infatuation with drums at the tender age of two. By the time he turned 12, he also developed what would prove to be a lifelong love of guitar. Throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, he played in a variety of cover bands in his hometown of Richmond Virginia, eventually leading him to start his own outfit, The Aimless Drifters. He also managed to record and self-release an album of original songs which he aptly titled Chase Your Dreams. Though satisfied with the songs, Ranson wasn’t happy with the album and ultimately decided to keep it under wraps in lieu of wider distribution.
Flash forward more than 20 years. Ranson revisits that earlier effort with an upcoming album he’s dubbed Still Dreaming. Due out in the next few months, it features new versions of the original songs that were on that initial album, with one additional track, “For You,” as well.
For Ranson, persistence clearly pays.
“I’m a determined soul that can be tough and tenacious,” Ranson insists. “To a large degree, that’s what has made me successful in life. I don’t quit until I have given it my all. My musician friends felt I had a bunch of great original tunes and that I should consider recording them in a professional studio. So in February of 2018, I started recording Still Dreaming at Red Amp Audio. I worked on the album for the next ten months and refused to stop until I had truly given it my best effort.”
The results clearly affirm his assessment. Ranson composed all the songs in the set, imbuing them with a sense of his own passion and purpose. By his own definition, blues, jazz, rock, reggae, afro-cuban and country all enter into his musical mix. Echoes of Steely Dan, Pablo Cruise and Eric Clapton are also evident throughout.
That broad sweep of styles is evident at the outset, from the island groove and wistful melody that surges so sweetly through “Right Place,” to the rigged rocker “Move On,” a pointed put down of those that depend on deceit as a means of furthering their intents. “Lonely Eyes” adds elements of an Afro-Cuban sound to tell the story of a woman’s determination to escape a troubled relationship and live her life anew. Likewise, “Just Like Anyone” and “Searchin” each center on people who yearn to fulfill their true potential and possibilities, but find themselves still seeking a way to fully move forward.
Other songs emerged from a deeply personal perspective. “Flyin’” speaks of Robert’s son and his struggle with drug addiction. “For You,” was written in the aftermath of his son’s tragic death from a heroin overdose.
Conversely, Ranson finds a source of celebration with “One Thing,” an up-tempo offering that expresses his lingering love and devotion to his daughter.
“My inspiration is found in the relationships, events, emotions and dreams that have been a part of my life,” Ranson relates. “That said, I have written a number of songs for the sole purpose of creating a fictional story. However even these stories are drawn from my personal experiences, although they’re written from the storyteller’s perspective.”
Having finally found fruition for his ongoing ambitions, Ranson now finds himself in a position where he can peer forward towards the future.
“The album is something I’m proud of,” he says assuredly. “It’s my hope this music can be shared extensively and win the appeal of a broad audience that can enjoy it.”