Allan Rayman at The Troubadour
"I don't really talk much. I'm trying to say more but I don't have much to say," Allan Rayman announced to a sold out crowd during the Troubadour stop of his Hotel Tour. The date was in support of his sophomore album, Roadhouse 01, recently released by Communion Records. It's an odd turn of phrase for the artist, who's as notoriously known for his air of mystery as he is praised for his addictive mix of Americana and R&B. To date, he's only given a total of two interviews. One of the two was shared with Communion co-founder and Mumford & Sons member Ben Lovett, making you wonder if he needed a hand with being comfortable in the spotlight, or if this was another way to keep himself in the dark as much as possible. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves...
Rayman originally hails from Wyoming but currently resides in northern Toronto. He used to work in construction before turning to music. The earliest inkling of him on the internet was in late 2013, but when you click on the source or try to look it up in the Wayback Machine, all you get is a missing page. His debut album, Hotel Allan, was originally released as a free download in 2015. However, conflicting press the following year lists its release as 2016. It makes you question where in the middle the truth really lies. Rayman's music is a battle between trying to maintain balance and control. His video imagery pulls you into a surreal headspace while his lyrical energy and vocal rawness keeps you swimming in the water, and it's what brought us to yearning to learn more about this elusive artist.
In his sophomore effort, Mr. Roadhouse, Rayman follows the story of an alter-ego he's created, an outside entity he can put all of the blame and guilt of trying to manage stability between his personal desires to create and maintaining relationships in life. His continual fascination with hotels and roads displays almost an obsession with locations of impermanence. He's admitted limelight scares the shit out of him, and that he's of the mindset it could all disappear. Maybe the two are connected. Or maybe not. That's the beauty and the pitfall of keeping all your cards close: nobody can really say if their assumptions are right or wrong.
Let's swing back to where we started. The night began with a three-series pat-down at the door which would make the TSA blush then an odd Mariachi band took the stage. The trio performed their own renditions of The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down," leaving most of the audience confused since the opener is a far cry stylistically from Rayman's music. However, a few were enraptured and stuck close to the stage. Finally, they departed and after the intermission the man of the hour came to the mic dressed in a hockey jersey with a bottle of Coppola in his hand. The first song started with a deep guitar lick and he danced across the stage before finishing it off with a thunderous laugh.
He howled and carried with him the precision of a puppet master on the stage, working intently with notes instead of strings. The frontman introduced his bandmates, Jessy on guitar and Moose behind him, labeling them the "Best Canadians." He led the audience on a journey and transformed the room into a sweat as everyone joined his movements on the more hip-hop leaning "Lucy The Tease." For an emerging artist, he's already developed quite the devoted following and is poised to only continue to grow as his music reaches new ears.