Jan 19, 2023
By Caleb Campbell
Tomorrow, New Jersey indie singer/songwriter and producer Dana Yurcisin is back with The Lyre, his debut album under the moniker Dana Why. Yurcisin first got his start under the name Static Sex, releasing a series of four albums before he began releasing music under his own name in 2020. The Lyre finds Yurcisin leaning fully into his instincts for melodic indie rock, but marrying that penchant for maximalism with a strikingly personal angle.
As Yurcisin describes, “The Lyre is as much of a breakup album about a person as it is about a place. I can trace its origins back to three life-altering events that all went down within roughly a year and a half from one another, from early 2015 to late 2016: a broken engagement, a move back home to New Jersey from Maine, and the start and end of the following relationship. I was unmotivated regarding anything except getting high and cranking out an obscene amount of demos…”
Today, ahead of the full record’s release, Yurcisin is sharing an early listen to the full album, premiering with Under the Radar.
With The Lyre, Yurcisin amplifies his melodicism, instrumentation, and songwriting to towering new heights, shading the record with expansive song structures and layer upon layer of instrumentation. That penchant shows up early with the record’s dramatic opener, “Glitter,” which leads easily into the twinkling introduction of “Western Cemetary.” Elsewhere, the record delivers a propulsive detour with the careening highlight “Kneel,” a theatrical multi-phased epic with “Jersey Devil,” and a cinematic finale with the closer, “Broke & In Love.” The result is at times daunting and expansive, but it also delivers plenty of soaring ambition and brilliant blown-out melodies, making it a rollercoaster ride worth taking.
Yurcisin explains of the record’s origins, saying “Around this time I had heard the only song released from the ill-fated The Meadowlands follow up from New Jersey greats the Wrens. The song was available only to those who purchased the 2015 edition of Esopus, an art magazine I’d never heard of and knew nothing about. All I did know was that based on the Meadowlands, I would pay pretty much any sum of money to hear what they would do next. ‘Three Types of Reading Ambiguity’ blew my fucking mind when I first heard it, and still does to this day. There are more creative ideas, textures, and interesting production choices in that song alone than most bands fit into entire careers. It totally rewired my brain regarding how I approach recording and mixing, and The Lyre was the first project that allowed me to explore this new, ‘enlightened’ process. It quickly became the most musically prolific time in my life…
My close friend Ryan Harris and I had just secured a small rehearsal space thanks to the lovely Justin Curtsinger at Grime Studios, where we would smoke and jam as loud as possible, just two guitars and the hundreds of effects pedals we cycled through. I recorded a bunch of those jams on my phone, and in February of 2016, we started piecing together songs from all of my demos and our jam seasons into what became a 30 song triple album of the most insane sounds we could make. The fact that it was 30 songs made the thing all but unfinishable, especially with my penchant to rework and fine-tune things endlessly (the drums for every song were recorded 2 full times, many of the vocals 2 full times, and the bass 3 times). In 2021, having only released a smattering of the songs as singles, I decided it was finally time to commit to an album I could feasibly finish, so I cut half the songs and gave myself a deadline. Who knows, maybe the other half comes out sometime down the road.”
He concludes, saying “I finished mixing and mastering the record this summer — closing the book on a period of my life I didn’t even want to live through. Today I’m more excited about my artistic future than ever before. This album represents such significant growth for me. It’s a love letter to the people and places that helped me through it.”
Check out the full album below, out everywhere tomorrow, January 20th via Mint 400 Records.