Over a career that spans nearly two decades, the prolific Matthew Ryan has refined the raucous poetry of his songwriting, creating his own working class aesthetic where beauty and darkness often trade punches from line to line—Intelligent, minimalist, and unapologetic. Ryan’s latest effort BOXERS to be release on October 14 is a moving and honest collection of songs from a lifelong seeker.
Last winter, Ryan set up shop at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, New York with a small team: producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Salem, The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon on guitar, longtime collaborator Brian Bequette on bass, Joe Magistro (The Black Crowes, Rich Robinson) on drums, and Ryan himself on vocals and guitars. They hunkered down to do the work of making a loud, rattling rock album.
“It was a beautiful brotherhood,” Ryan says. “In my mind, the record sounds like Crazy Horse meets early Replacements with nods to more recent bands I love like the National.” From the explosive force of the title track through the hollering gang vocals of “This One’s for You, Frankie,” to the woozy, heart-rending “Anthem for the Broken,” this is a record of big ideas and big sounds.
BOXERS features the working poor in “Suffer No More,” the ruthless ethos of pure capitalists in “We Are Libertines,” and the two together in “Heaven’s Hill.” Ryan finds the humanity, scars and sneers and all, in each character. From the silvery burst of feedback that opens the record, to the dissolving vérité of the last notes of the final song, BOXERS is Ryan’s growling missive in the modern wilderness, a defiant howl against complacency, despair and greed.
His 1997 A&M Records debut, May Day, has become revered as a seminal alt-country record, with subsequent releases including East Autumn Grin, Vs The Silver State, In The Dusk of Everything and From a Late Night High Rise and Dear Lover have cemented his place as a respected songwriter and performer.
Also recently garnering new attention are Ryan’s songs “Jane I Still Feel the Same” from the album VS The Silver State reaping a sudden surge on Spotify with over a million listens over the past few months and “Some Streets Lead Nowhere,” from the album “Dear Lover” which has recently seen a spike in views on YouTube. Both songs were featured in the WB’s One Tree Hill.
With a passion in his sound that perfectly accents his lyrics Ryan manages to be both raw and polished as he delivers an album that is comparable to what happens when you pour accelerant on burning embers of creativity.