Locals: Natural Sway living the 'Sweet Life'

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

In the fall of 2014, when Ryan Eilbeck started in on the songs that form the backbone of Natural Sway's debut LP,Sweet Life, he wasn't sure what form they might take. At the time, Eilbeck knew his longtime band, the currently shelved Delay, wouldn't be playing much - if at all - but he also had little interest in performing solo.

"I didn't know exactly what I was going to use the songs for when I first hit record on the four-track, but it definitely started to feel like they were coming together for a band," said Eilbeck, who recorded the songs beneath a rickety loft bed he constructed in a house on Adams Avenue in the Old North neighborhood, dubbing the demo, appropriately,The Under the Loft Sessions. In the months that followed, he passed the tape to a couple favorite musicians in the hopes of starting a band: bassist/guitarist Sarah Yetter (of the late, loved El Jesus De Magico) and drummer Michael O'Shaughnessy (El Jesus, Connections).

"When you stay in Columbus long enough … your orbits get closer and closer, and eventually they became approachable enough for me to give them a cassette tape of me howling in my room," said Eilbeck, who joins his bandmates for a record release show at Carabar on Friday, Oct. 14. "Sarah was like, 'Dude, I like these songs.' … She started hearing parts and I was like, 'I've got her. She's down.'

"Mike, I can't tell if he ever actually listened to it. Probably not. But Sarah and I had three practices and Mike decided to show up. We played two songs and I was like, 'Oh yeah, that's a band.'"

This carefree feel spills over into open-ended indie-rock songs like "Wild Stranger," which builds around scruffy, free-range guitar, minimalist bass (Eilbeck said Yetter patterned her simple approach on old Lee Hazlewood recordings) and locomotive-steady drums. While the music maintains a loose, unbuttoned feel throughout, Eilbeck's words are more carefully composed, with small details inspiring big-picture reflection. Witness the album opening "Church Bells," where the scene of a bird flying through an open door and into a vanity mirror leads to a poignant realization, Eilbeck singing, "Dying notes can be a beautiful thing."

"It's funny what little moments in a day will ignite a song," said Eilbeck, who relocated to Athens, Ohio, nearly six months ago, moving into a home on a picturesque horse farm he compared with the image one might find on a postcard. "I was drinking coffee out of a mug that says 'Groundhog's Job Shadow Day' … and I was like 'Oh, is Groundhog Day on the second or the third?' And that made me think about my mom, because her birthday is on the second, which made me think, 'My sister is my mom's first kid.' And that led to talking about [my sister having her first child] in a song."

"It's these little events," he continued, chuckling. "A song idea from a coffee mug."


9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14

115 Parsons Ave., Olde Towne East

ALSO PLAYING: Aaron Troyer & the Destroyers, The Middle Children, Matt Umland