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Matthew Ryan Vs. the Silver State

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iTunes Review

It’s really not Vs. the Silver State. They’re singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan’s backing band and they’re in perfect lockstep here, rolling along with the scenery, haunting the quieter spaces and providing consistent, cohesive support to yet another songwriter squeezing out a new vision from the well-mined alt-country and alternative pop terrain. It helps that Ryan has a voice that immediately conveys sincerity with its raspy twist and dirt-floor realism. The opening cut, “Dolce Et Decorum Est,” flows for seven minutes, personal reflections flashing by in locomotion. “American Dirt” opens things up as an observation of American society while its frustration builds to a cathartic head. The spare, acoustic “Jane, I Still Feel the Same” aches with a knowledge of finality. “Meet Me By the River” percolates with a frustrated rate underneath its sweetly chiming notes. Ryan isn’t the strong, silent type, but the wordy, tenacious troubadour who figures if he’s talked himself into a situtation, he should then be able to talk himself out of it. His captivating vocals make sure you listen.

Customer Reviews

Early Frontrunner for Best of 2008

The finest album of Matthew Ryan's career. An extraordinary accomplishment for an artist whose body of work over the last fifteen years is almost unparalleled. The disc starts off Killer Bee with Dulce Et Decorum Est which takes it's name from the Wilfred Owen anti war poem and is a rollicking take on the loss of love and the bewilderment that goes with that loss. There are so many great songs that it's tough to point to one but American Dirt reminds me of the first time I heard Badlands by Bruce Springsteen and "It Could've Been Worse" manages to name check the clash, Born to Run and Old Main Drag by the Pogues all in a heartbreaking song about suicide. And I'm not sure there will be a better line written this year than "Some people push 'til a kid goes boom. Late at night it got dark in your room". Then it turns up a notch with maybe the rockin'est song Matthew Ryan has ever done, "Hold On Firefly" a song that offers possible hope to a woman in another abusive relationship although I believe that she's certainly skeptical about that hope. The album ends with a song that believes that there is beauty in just going on, that the hits keep coming and maybe we will never win but "we're closing in". I buy 200 to 250 discs a year, Matthew Ryan has never let me down and again this is his best to date.

Destined to be a classic

The fact that Matthew Ryan is not widely known as one of the best songwriters to emerge in the last 15 years is criminal (ok I got that out of my system - on with the review of "Vs the Silver State"). Matthew Ryan Vs The Silver State may be the finest record top to bottom in MR's very impressive catalog. There are at least 8 songs on here that I would put up with the best of his material ("American Dirt", "Jane, I Still Feel the Same", "They Were Wrong", "Closing In", "It Could Have Been Worse", "Dulce Et Decorum Est", "Killing The Ghost", and "I Only Wanna Be The Man You Want" - currently make the cut for me). As usual Matthew is a devastatingly good lyricist and songwriter and that remains the case. From the aching and beautiful lines in Dolce Et Decorum Est: "Well you know, I think, I can ... vanish with the evening dust, join the ghost that haunted us Well you know, I think, I am ... Herioc in a failing way, for some of us it goes that way" To these lines from It Could Have Been Worse: "You promised her everything, not knowing what everything really was ... She’s the first girl you kiss, she’s the first girl you miss, When your feeling like this, broken in the dark ... Her blonde hair was a setting sun, Her mascara was born to run" Matthew Ryan is at his creative peak in this record and it is a thing of beauty to watch and listen to. Raw - honest - hopeful and beautiful. Grab it - you will not be disappointed.

Another Classic

Matthew Ryan has done it again! How this guy doesnt sell millions of albums is amazing. This release is another in a long line of excellent songwriting, great music and thoughtful arrangements. He hits on all cylinders here-desperation of the lost, realizing your place in the world, and the hopeful moments that love provides. Buy the whole album now!


Born: November 7, 1971 in Chester, PA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

An alt-country singer/songwriter in the vein of Josh Rouse and Ryan Adams, Matthew Ryan funnels his rasped vocals and passionate lyrics into a steady stream of somber, melancholic albums. Born in Chester, PA, the young Ryan took inspiration from such artists as U2, the Replacements, and Leonard Cohen. He moved to Delaware and logged several years in a series of bands before signing with A&M Records as a solo artist in 1996. May Day was released a year later, drawing comparisons to Tom Waits and sparking...
Full Bio
Matthew Ryan Vs. the Silver State, Matthew Ryan
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Customer Ratings