Matthew Ryan “Hustle Up Starlings”
Matthew Ryan is an artist who caught our attention with his last album “Boxers”. That was a brilliant release and we absolutely loved it. Indeed, off the back of it we went and bought his entire back catalogue! The news of a new release therefore brought much joy to us.
Opening number “(I Just Died) Like An Aviator” is reassuringly excellent. Along with “Battle Born” they confirm that the traits we loved about Boxers are still present. These songs finely balance being acoustic/singer songwriter in style but with an undercurrent of an alternative rock n roll band.
A sense of melancholy is never too far away though. Tracks like “Hustle Up Starlings” and “Maybe I’ll Disappear” have a more down beat tone to them. But, we are a million miles away from any kind of wimpy, syrupy ballads. These are songs full of emotion and feeling. They take you on a journey through love and life.
As rockers at heart, we will always be drawn to the more up-tempo numbers. But that doesn’t mean they have to be straight forward rock tracks. So, to us at least, “Close Your Eyes” has the feel of an American singer songwriter doing a Cure song! Then, “It’s a Delicate Waltz” treads a similar path to the brilliant solo album of Brian Fallon or perhaps his Horrible Crowes side project. That’s perhaps not surprising when you hear that Mr Fallon produced this album. That fact alone should tell you a lot about the quality of Matthew Ryan’s song writing and the respect his peers have for him.
Comparisons to Springsteen are almost inevitable when listening to Matthew’s stuff. That’s partly due to his rasping, almost whispering, vocal style. But most importantly, tracks like “All I Wanted” and “Summer Never Ends” are also more like stories than ‘just’ songs. There’s an attention to the details in the lyrics that so often seems to elude many artists.
For us, Matthew Ryan is very much an ‘album’ artist. Sure you can drop into the odd track and really enjoy it, but he just isn’t really a ‘flick through Spotify’ type guy. The whole album needs to be listened to and then you are rewarded by being taken on a journey through thoughts and emotions. Indeed, he produces the kind of album that you feel you should savour on vinyl. However, whatever your format preference, the most important thing is that you need to buy this album.