Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Matthew Ryan

presspass001Songwriters probably pen more songs about love than any other topic and frankly it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to be carried away by the excesses and hyperbole and all of the fantastically, super-awesome, sweetness that just oozes from the subject’s pores. As veteran scribe Matthew Ryan puts it, “Who doesn’t like falling in love?”

presspass001

Matthew Ryan (Photo: Scott Simontacchi)

Songwriters probably pen more songs about love than any other topic and frankly it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to be carried away by the excesses and hyperbole and all of the fantastically, super-awesome, sweetness that just oozes from the subject’s pores. As veteran scribe Matthew Ryan puts it, “Who doesn’t like falling in love?”

Maintaining love? That’s another matter. With that comes honesty and scrutiny and admissions of guilt and failures and a host of other harsh realities that no one likes to linger on. When it comes to Ryan’s new release, Dear Lover, he takes on the full spectrum, the sweet with the sour, to provide a refreshing take on one of the world’s oldest topics.

In a previous interview, Ryan stated he believed his latest album is “a really honest album about love … and I know how dangerous that can be.” The danger doesn’t stem from the schmaltzy, head-over-heels, first blush, but rather the perils that emerge over time as true love endures.

“If you’re going to talk about love honestly, you have to be willing to say those things,” Ryan says later during a phone interview with the News-Press. “I think the more mysterious thing is how we continue to get love to work. On the record I think I try to come to conclusions about what makes it work and what makes it fail. We often write about falling in love, but we rarely write about the complexity of maintaining love. And that can be just about a woman or a metaphor for things that you love as well.”

Such as a love for writing music perhaps?

“It’s indescribable,” Ryan says of the reaction he enjoys from songwriting. “There are a lot of different people that do different things that get a similar sensation. But to create something that didn’t exist before you did it, and for that creation to become meaningful to others, I don’t know if there’s any greater reward in anything I do.”

But like any love, Ryan’s affair with songwriting has had its ballads. Over the course of a 12-album career that began with label support and continues on Dear Lover as an almost entirely solo production, Ryan’s road has been a winding one and that passion has largely sustained him. While he has had success as an Indie artist, and is one of the well-known names in a crowded and competitive Nashville music scene, he’s often watched his friends and counterparts pass him by to play bigger rooms and larger audiences. Troubled too by a writing dry spell, during an interview roughly a year ago, Ryan was seriously questioning what the path ahead of him would look like.

“Music is something that continues to pull me forward and it’s frustrating when you’re not being creative, because I’m not really a craftsman so much as a sleepwalker,” Ryan says of the time. “There’s a fear that comes when you’re not creative and you’re not sure what you’re going to do. It is what I do for a living, but I could never just make music for a living. That’s a walk I couldn’t walk. I have to find that sweet spot.”

He just may have found it with Dear Lover, an album that agrees with him and his widespread, global audience.

As part of a word-of-mouth promotional campaign, Ryan’s likeness began cropping up around the globe in the form of an eight-inch cardboard cut-out doll. Fans photographed themselves and the doll at landmarks and even welcomed Ryan’s paper proxy into their homes. The video evidence has been set to the tune of “City Life” off of Dear Lover and can be seen on Ryan’s Web site.

“I get e-mails all the time saying, when are you going to play all these amazing places? But the reality is I’m not in a position yet to go play Zurich on a whim, or Mumbai, or Tokyo,” Ryan says. “We’d love nothing more to go do that. Slowly, my career is growing and I’m getting to play new places and see some other parts of the world and that’s one of the things I love most about my career, building connections to people worldwide. And this is a part of that.”

Ryan attributes the success of the Paper Ryan campaign to the power of the Internet, as well as that of television, where he’s placed several songs, most recently on NBC’s “Mercy.” The CW’s “One Tree Hill” plans to title its season finale “Some Streets Lead Nowhere,” after a track from Dear Lover that’s appeared previously on the show.

“That’s the kind of stuff that gives me the financial ability to keep going forward,” Ryan says, who already has plans to repay fans by creating a revolutionary “immersive” live show he believes would change the way people experience music.

The creativity to keep things exciting, the desire to make it work, the surrender to a passion that keeps pulling him forward — that’s Ryan’s love affair with his trade. And we all have the benefit of hearing how it all plays out.

• For more on Matthew Ryan, visit www.matthewryanonline.com.


 

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