ALBUMS OF THE MONTH:
I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, by Matthew Ryan
If I needed proof as to why Matthew Ryan is among my favorite songwriters, I needn’t look any further than his explanation of his latest release:
It wasn’t my intention to make a gloomy album. I know it will be perceived that way by some, but these are fighter songs that are fully aware that tomorrow will be exactly what we allow it to be. It’s funny and true that my intention initially was to deliver a lighter, folkier collection of songs that dealt in beauty, space and contentment. I mean for me personally, things really aren’t that bad and I wasn’t in a particularly bad mood when I sat down to write these songs. Needless to say, the world crept in and I set off trying to make sense of the times we’re living in, times as blurry and worried as these.
Quite simply, Ryan is on a never-ending quest to challenge both himself and those listening to his music. Each subsequent release starts in a similar place, an austere worldview wrapped in often dark yet always engaging music.
Ryan often uses simple melodies and repeated lyrics for added impact. This is no more evident then the evocative and intense “I Don’t Want a Third World War.” “Look a child in the eye and say ‘what are you crying for?’, he sings, “You should never expect too much from us.”
“All of That Means Nothing Now” vividly captures the moment of heartbreak. “Then I felt something, like a dam that broke,” he reflects, “ a rush of every sea, I still love you in my throat.” The shock of the moment is made all the more forceful by music that builds to an intense guitar solo and crashing drums.
“Summer in the South” has a somberness that belies the drum loop that propels the song. There is an intimacy in the lyrics as two lovers discuss the future of their relationship, “And so she said, ‘I’ve had enough of almost there.’”
Album closer “All Hail the Kings of Trash” is a proper capstone, burning with fire and intensity. “A manufactured past, now you’re talking trash,” he decries, “too stupid to rebel, we got Straight To Hell.”
I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall is a complex album reflective — and worthy — of complicated times.
Audio Download: Matthew Ryan, “Summer in the South”
Just Like Any Problem, Tim Easton and the Freelan Barons (featuring Megan Palmer) (from the Campfire Propaganda release Beat the Band)
Easton has recently shared two new releases, one acoustic and one electric
This song is a brilliant lesson in simplicity. A haunting riff is played repeatedly yet rather than sound repetitious, it gives the song a brooding and captivating quality. “We’re gonna let love sort itself out, just like any problem.”
Audio Download: Tim Easton, “Just Like Any Problem”
The Other Side of Letting Go, Gordie Sampson (from the turtlemusik release Almost Beautiful)
Nova Scotia native Sampson spends half his time in Nashville as an in-demand songwriter. Fortunately he has saved some of his best songs for himself, as evidenced by this moving country pop ballad from his latest release.
Audio Download: Gordie Sampson, “The Other Side of Letting Go”
How Can We, BoDeans (from the Oarfin release Indigo Dreams)
Anthemic heartland rock, bursting with the harmonies and sing-along choruses, has always been the Bodeans calling card. More than 20 years down the road they continue to deliver the goods.
We struggle to see the distance between the first kiss and getting’ to this
I’m letting you down ’cause I’m no good at letting you go.
Audio Download: Bodeans, “How Can We”
Lies in My Heart, Tommy Keene (from the Second Motion release Behind the Parade)
Keene has had an impressive career that has found him alternating between releasing his own impressive brand of power pop and playing electric guitar with some of the genre’s greats (Paul Westerberg and Robert Pollard). Hot on the heels of last year’s 41-track career retrospective, Keene is back with ten new gems for his impessive catalog. His big hooks packaged in ringing guitars make for great summer listening.
Audio Download: Tommy Keene, “Lies in My Heart”
Mourning Glory Kid, Zachary Cale (from the All Hands Electric release Noise of Welcome)
Brooklyn by way of Louisiana indie folkster Cale has a voice slightly reminiscent of early Dylan and songs that are as intelligent as they are appealing. Well, perhaps biting is a better description as he sings, “You’re so tastelessly crass with your graceless past.”
Audio Download: Zachary Cale, “Mourning Glory Kid”
Shine Right Through, Correatown (from the Another Room Recordings release Pleiades)
It is difficult to listen to Correatown and not get lost in Angela Correa’s voice. It has a magical quality, made all the more engaging by the ethereal arrangement of the songs. This enchanting ballad is the perfect introduction.
Audio Download: Correatown, “Shine Right Through”
Magic, Leagues (from the self-released ep Leagues)
Imagine if Drivin’ and Cryin’ were were a part of the UK indie rock scene and you’ve got a good feel for Leagues. Think a healthy rock sound with the pleasantly tarnished edges replaced with a more modern pop feel. This relatively new Nashville quartet are ones to watch.
Audio Stream: Leagues, “Magic”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Swallowed by the Cracks, David and David (from the A&M release Welcome to the Boomtown)
David Baerwald, with his partner David Ricketts, unleashed one of the more potent debut releases in rock history. Released during the prime of the Reagan era, the album explored the grittier side of that era. This track, as much as anything on that album, tells the tale of youthful optimism crashing into the harsh reality of urban life.
Audio Download: David and David, “Swallowed by the Cracks (live)”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.