"In the Dusk of Everything," Matthew Ryan (www.matthewryanonline.com)
Matthew Ryan's songs are sort of like still seeing something gorgeous in the worst situation. His songs are beautifully bleak. Relationships disintegrate in slow motion. The sense of bitterness and disappointment can fill entire albums. All hope is destroyed and, yet, you just can't stop listening. Ryan doesn't deliver his songs with whiny melancholy. So many artists are like that goof at a party who wants an open ear to fill with self-pity. With Ryan, it's more whispered secrets from a world-weary friend.
Ryan has been a major talent with a minor following since his debut album "May Day" in 1997. Since the release of 2006's "From a Late Night High Rise," Ryan's albums have become increasingly atmospheric, low key and instrumentally sparse. Sometimes he's singing to little more than a beat. With another artist that might translate as "dull." Ryan, though, belongs in that same category as Leonard Cohen, the late John Martyn and a few others who only seem more intense and interesting as they get quieter. When Ryan whispers a song, you're going to want to listen.
His new album "In the Dusk of Everything" begins with the lines:
"I can't bear the thought of ever going back/my head was full of nails my heart was broke and black/I never understood that glimmering you chased/I found it useless so I turned and walked away ..."
But for the rest of the disc, it's pretty obvious that the singer hasn't walked away.
In "And It's Such a Drag" Ryan addresses his lost love with bitterness:
"Who paid the rent before you were famous/Who warned you that it steals?/Now you talk about the past like it was just some waiting room/and you talk about me like i was just another one of your deals ..."
In the last lines of the album (not including the bonus track) Ryan matter-of-factly sings: "Let's wave goodbye
to who we were and we'll never be again."
You may never be the same after you spend a little time with Ryan.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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