Larry Myer – Not dead yet
When asked what he’d be doing if he weren’t playing music, Larry Myer replies quite simply, “I’d be dead.” The laugh in his voice can’t hide the seriousness of that statement, for it is exactly that dedication which helps his music remain so strong. His scratchy voice and intense emotional investment allow the listener to visit a private part of his world.
Myer’s first album, Flatlands, is a moving tribute to the Midwest and the special sort of life grown there. His sings with an endless hunger and sense of awe. He is without the pretentious depression found in so many musicians, and his longing comes from a sense that the answers are out there, if only he can find them. The album’s forceful lyrics are backed by musical intensity driven by Myer’s own playing and that of friend Jack Gallup. Flatlands is a noble, mood-driven album, although at times Myer’s predilection for bells and whistles pushes it towards the edge of overproduction.
Myer’s second album, The Ring, is driven a bit more by acoustic guitar and vocals and has less of the overproduced shortcomings of the first. The musicianship is still solid and his lyrics remain strong. Much like mid-’70s Neil Young, Myer walks the thin line between sentimentality and sappiness, but his intense honesty keeps him true to his audience.
Myer considers his music rock ‘n’ roll, but it also has a strong sense of folk, blues and R&B. His love for Young and Bruce Springsteen shine through clearly, but so does his passion for the likes of Don Ho. He is a master of the ballad, but also has a strong sense of pop with catchy licks and extended jams. He’s best experienced in a live setting, when he plays with an uncommon strength and intensity.
Born in Iowa, Myer has spent his life as a wanderer, taking his unique brand of Midwestern pop-rock-folk around the country, often earning a living as a street musician. He says he once thought about returning to farming as a living but realized he could never be anything but a musician. He still hops in a beat-up old auto and heads out onto the road with his gear stashed in the back seat. His shows take him across Iowa and into Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, sometimes further.
Though Myer says his next album will be straight up rock ‘n’ roll, it seems unlikely that he’ll completely leave behind his banjo or acoustic guitar. At heart, he is a storyteller, and no matter what type of music he chooses to set them to, his stories will be gems.