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Matthew Ryan
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Matthew Ryan (born November 7, 1971) is an American singer-songwriter whose music can be roughly characterized as alternative country. Ryan also collaborated with Neilson Hubbard to form the band Strays Don’t Sleep. Ryan’s voice has been described as a “hushed rasp, with words catching like vows destined to be broken - one of modern music’s most potent whispers.”
Perhaps the most underrated singer/songwriter of the past 12 years, Matthew Ryan arrived on the music scene in 1997 with Mayday. A combination of influences from Tom Waits, Waterboys and Bruce Springsteen can all be heard here, but the sound and songwriting are Matthew Ryan’s alone.
After being dropped by Interscope Records Ryan started working on demo material with David Henry. The material was stark and bare, Concussion was recorded and mixed in 8 days with Richard McLaurin. It was released in 2001 on Nashville, Tennessee label WaxySilver and features a duet with Lucinda Williams. Ryan was asked by actor/director Edward Burns to contribute a song to his film Ash Wednesday. “Be Thou My Vision” was used on the closing credits of Edward Burns’ film. Ryan opened tours for Kasey Chambers and Lucinda Williams for much of 2001, along with his own headlining shows.
2002 was a quiet period for Ryan, eventually releasing two collections of Stereo-Pak demo recordings, Dissent from the Living Room and Hopeless to Hopeful. These were made available on CDR through Ryan’s website.
Ryan started recording again on February 2003, Regret Over the Wires was released in late 2003 by Hybrid Recordings. In April, Concussion was released in the UK and Europe through One Little Indian Records. This included a UK tour with label mate Jeff Klein. On September 9, 2003, One Little Indian Records also released Happiness in the UK and Europe only, a collection of songs taken from Ryan’s self-distributed collections Dissent from the Living Room and Hopeless to Hopeful. Ryan made another self-distributed release in December entitled These Are Field Recordings, a two-disc collection of live recordings and early tracks.
Matthew Ryan approached Neilson Hubbard in 2004 about a collaboration, which could result in an interesting self-distributed release for fans. The collaboration was much more successful than expected and Strays Don’t Sleep was formed with Neilson Hubbard, Brian Bequette, Billy Mercer and Steve Latanation.
In the Autumn 2005 Strays Don’t Sleep’s debut self-titled album was released in the UK on One Little Indian Records. The release includes a DVD of short films that were directed and shot by professional filmmakers and friends, including Gorman Bechard, The Barnes Brothers, Martin Glenn, Matt Boyd and Jared Johnson. Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard also directed three of the short films with the help of Nashville film student, Matt Riddlehoover. A 5.1 surround sound mix of the entire record and films, by Paul PDub Walton of Björk and Sneaker Pimps fame, is available on the DVD.
Strays Don’t Sleep was released to great reviews from Time Out, Uncut, The Sunday Express and The Times. The success helped secure a US release, which was helped further by a placement in the hit CW (former WB) drama One Tree Hill. “For Blue Skies”, a song concerning the sentencing of Matthew Ryan’s brother to 30 years in prison, was made available on the One Tree Hill Soundtracks. Strays Don’t Sleep toured the UK with Josh Rouse to support the album. Strays Don’t Sleep was officially disbanded mid-2006. Their Music Video DVD Album “Strays Don’t Sleep” with each song presented by a different director, won the top Award - The Grand Remi for Best Music Video - at the 2006 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in April 2006. The group performed in person at the Remi Awards Gala dinner for 500 international filmmakers to a standing ovation. They disbanded shortly after this remarkable performance.
In 2006 Ryan completed recording for another solo album called From a Late Night High Rise. It’s a collection of songs inspired by the death of a friend and the sentencing of Ryan’s brother to 30 years in prison. The album feature band members from Strays Don’t Sleep and was self-produced with Neilson Hubbard. From a Late Night High Rise was released on December 5, 2006 through 2minutes59 and iTunes, and Ryan embarked on a US tour with Tim Easton in February 2007. From a Late Night High Rise was met with the strongest wave of critical support Ryan has received to date. It was praised as “A must-hear, have-to-own epic of an album that should be required listening for every songwriter—and music lover—in the world.”
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