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I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall

Matthew Ryan

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

Described by Matthew Ryan as “an album in defense of our humanity amid the modern conflict,” I Recall Standing is a tense collection of tunes that prove this Pennsylvania-born, East Coast troubadour is paying close attention to the world at hand. It’s practically a natural reflex after the intense introspection of his fantastic Dear Lover album. “The Sea” begins things with a muted rasp that evokes the bad news expected from a Twilight Singers album. The acoustic “I Don’t Want a Third World War” is a grim lament that looks a child in the eye and tells her, “You shouldn’t expect too much.” “Hey Kid” rallies the youth to make their voices heard. “Harmonium Song” comes as advertised, a bleak, droning plea. “I Still Believe In You,” featuring Olly Knights of Turin Brakes, is another piece of brilliant minimalism. “My Darker Side” sits at the piano like Neil Young during one of his long, dark nights of the soul. Even the full-out rock of “All Hail the Kings of Trash” has an apocalyptic gravity pulling it to the earth. This is a career highlight.

Customer Reviews

A Clarion Call

Matthew Ryan is arguably our finest songwriter of the last twenty years. This is release is right up there with the best he has produced. This is an important disc to listen to and consume. A chronicle of where we are as a country and how that also effects us individually. It jumps off with a great first tune and never let's up. It rocks it rolls and it gets quiet when it needs to be. There have been pretenders and CONtenders in artists who chronicle our times Ryan is the real deal. A clarion call to the listener about where we are headed. A great fantastic disc. Make sure you seek out " this is the hill" from the bonus disc. One of Matthew Ryans best songs ever.

Epic Masterpiece

I spent the last year with Ryan's "Dear Lover - Acoustic Version" on permanent repeat on my ipod. I found the ridiculously sparse and simple arrangements to be the perfect compliment to his often whispered vocals and engaging lyrics. It was, without question, my favorite album of last year, and continues to be one of my favorites.

The first song I heard from "I Recall Standing..." was "Hey Kid". Initially, I was a little put off by the laseresque synth and booming drums. I went into this looking for more of the same intimate music of "Dear Lover - Acoustic", and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. However, by the time the song was in full swing, and I was surrounded by the wall of sound Ryan creates here, I came to the conclusion that a lot of the songs here, particularly, "Hey Kid" demand a much bigger sound, and, for the most part, that's what Ryan delivers on this album.

Looking back now, sonically, it's not that huge of a departure from the original "Dear Lover" release. I'd just been living in the cocoon of the acoustic version so long that I'd forgotten how much different (though also great) the original is. I Recall... actually feels like a natural progression from that - another step that Ryan's take in the direction of making his records more cinematic, moving organically from scene to scene. If you listen (I mean *really* listen) to the whole disk from start to finish, you can't help but picture sets in vivid detail, even when the physical details of the song's setting aren't really described. It's all driven by the music and the emotion in Ryan's voice.

What has always impressed me about Matthew Ryan was that, while his attitude was decidedly anti-pop, that never stopped him from putting together insanely catch hooks that echo in your head for days. I swear I've had "Oh oh oh, here we go..." from the opening track, "The Sea" stuck in my head from the first time I heard it. There are many such moments like that on "I Recall...", and, for me, it always underscores how stupid pop music is. It's stupid, because it embraces stupidity; it insists upon it. Ryan is an artist that proves that you can write a catchy tune that is actually borne of something real, filled with real emotion and is actually worth repeating.

If you know Ryan's work at all, then you know that he's a lyrical mastermind. I don't think he would create a sound so big if the lyrics weren't up to the task, and they're as sharp as ever here. What makes the whole thing work is that his words stand out and are, in fact, propelled forward by the music that drives them. He also seems willing to step outside of what you might think is his comfort zone, dropping lines like, "Throwing bombs like they were ropes", which sounds like it might be more at home in hip hop. Somehow, though, it sounds natural. It's not a stunt.

"I Recall..." isn't all dope rhymes and catchy hooks, though. There's some dark stuff on this record. Tales of fallen family ("Harmonium Song"), infidelity ("My Darker Side") and protest ("I Don't Want a Third World War", "I Want Peace"). For me, though, the most touching and somber moment of the record is when Ryan sings on "Song for a Friend", "Oh my friend / I'm worried / Time's a shark / and in a hurry". That passage reads as a great lyric, but Ryan's delivery is what drives it home. I'm about the same age as Matthew Ryan, and I often look back at friendships that have withered for lack of attention, and I've seen myself start to care more about things that shouldn't matter more than these relationships. The song finishes with "On nights like this / I drink my share of whiskey / and wade in the flood of loneliness / that was so foreign when you were with me". It literally hurts me to hear, but that's what makes it so powerful.

Really, I'm not aware of a songwriter out there that puts more into writing than Ryan. In release after release, he manages to put together complete works - albums with no filler. It still blows my mind that someone can put together record such as this, where it seems like every piece of every song was given the same consideration and importance. Nothing is glossed over. Nothing is settled for. It makes it impossible to turn off.

Another stellar album

If you love real songrwriting you will love this album and the rest of his cds. Have way too many songs on my itunes account and Matthew's tracks are by far the ones I play the most. If you have a chance check him out live. His intimate performance in Lexington last year was my favorite concert ever (and I have been to a few!).

Biography

Born: November 7, 1971 in Chester, PA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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...
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I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, Matthew Ryan
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