Matthew Ryan (musician)

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Matthew Ryan
Matthew Ryan at The Saint 250.jpg
Matthew Ryan at The Saint 2011
Background information
Born (1971-11-07) November 7, 1971 (age 47)
Chester, Pennsylvania, US
OriginNewark, Delaware, US[1]
GenresAlternative country
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1997–present
LabelsA&M Records, Waxy Silver Records, Hybrid Recordings, One Little Indian, Plastic Violin
Associated actsStrays Don't Sleep, The Gaslight Anthem

Matthew Ryan is an American musician, singer and songwriter,[2] born in Chester, Pennsylvania and inspired by such artists as U2, The Replacements, and Leonard Cohen; he logged several years in a series of bands before signing with A&M Records as a solo artist in 1996.[3] No Depression magazine has described him as, “Equal parts Springsteen, Westerberg and Ryan Adams, Ryan is a powerhouse of a storyteller for almost two decades. A forefather of the Alt-country scene, Ryan has yet to receive as much commercial success as some of his contemporaries.[4] Ryan is known for his ”hushed rasp, with words catching like vows destined to be broken – one of modern music's most potent whispers."[5]

Ryan has released 17 solo albums to date, and two collaborations; one with Neilson Hubbard in the band Strays Don't Sleep, and the other with ambient/post-rock band Hammock. Ryan’s music has been featured in One Tree Hill, Ash Wednesday, Dawson's Creek, The 24th Day, and House. His most recent album, Hustle Up Starlings was released in 2017, followed by Starlings Unadorned in 2018, which offers more intimate, bare recordings of previously released and new songs.


May Day[edit]

After attending Valley Forge High School, Matthew Ryan arrived on the music scene on September 23, 1997 with May Day, produced by David Ricketts (Sheryl Crow, Meredith Brooks) and released on A&M Records. Drawing on such influences like John Cougar Mellencamp, Ryan showed a lot of potential on his debut album. Allmusic concluded, "The native of Chester, PA (near Philadelphia) was 25 at the time, but this is such a mature, emotionally honest effort that one got the impression he'd done more living than usual during his 25 years. Ryan's voice is rough and has a very lived-in quality that proves most appropriate on such tales of loss, disappointment, and hurt as "Watch Your Step," "Chrome," and "Lights of the Commodore Barry." There isn't a lot of hope or optimism here; Ryan obviously didn't hesitate to let some of his darker feelings flow when he went into the studio to record this album, which is as pessimistic as it is soulful, moving and personal."[6] A video was made for "Guilty". The album is considered a classic of the genre.[7]

East Autumn Grin[edit]

Follow up album East Autumn Grin, was released on August 15, 2000 via A&M Records. The album was recorded at Kingsway Studio in New Orleans (with additional sessions in both Nashville and Oxnard, California) and was co-produced with Trina Shoemaker (known for her work with Sheryl Crow and Giant Sand). Ryan was joined by Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner contributed trumpet on "Ballad Of A Limping Man,” former Concrete Blonde frontwoman Johnette Napolitano sang on "Sunk" and "The World Is On Fire,” Slow River/Rykodisc artist Josh Rouse tracked backing vocals on "I Hear A Symphony,” and David Ricketts, formerly of David & David, played keyboards, guitar and piano at Teatro in Oxnard, California, and at the Sound Emporium in Nashville. Ryan says of East Autumn Grin, "Not only did I want to create a collection of great recordings, but equally, a collection of great moments."[8][9] A U.S. promotional tour from July 25 through September 8 will take Ryan in an intimate acoustic setting to Louisville (July 25), Chicago (July 26), Minneapolis (July 27), Boston (July 31), New York (Aug. 1), Philadelphia (Aug. 2), Birmingham (Aug. 5), Austin (Aug. 14), Boulder, Gavin Convention (Aug. 17-18), Los Angeles release party (Aug. 22), San Francisco (August 23), Portland (Aug. 25-26), Seattle (Aug. 28-29), and a Nashville release party (Sept. 8) with a full band playing on the Boulder, Austin, Los Angeles and Nashville appearances.

The album failed to become the commercial success the label had hoped, and Ryan's contract was dissolved when A&M Records merged with Interscope Records.[citation needed]


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 the film. Ryan opened tours for Kasey Chambers and Lucinda Williams for much of 2001, along with his own headlining shows.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Regret Over the Wires[edit]

Ryan started recording again in 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.[citation needed]

Strays Don't Sleep[edit]

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.

From a Late Night High Rise[edit]

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 featured 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."[10]

Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State[edit]

In 2008 Ryan released his next album: Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State (or "MRVSS") on 00:02:59 and One Little Indian Records. Exclusive internet-only downloads of the album also included the song "Rainy Night in Soho" (a cover version of a song by The Pogues). Following the release of the album, Ryan toured the US to support its release with a full band.

Dear Lover[edit]

Dear Lover, Matthew Ryan's next studio album, was released in October 2009. Followed in May 2010 by a stripped down version of the album: Dear Lover (The Acoustic Version).

I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall[edit]

In June 2010 he started recording I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall in his Nashville home studio, which he wouldn't finish until April 2011.[11] In between he did an Italian tour in October 2010 to promote Dear Lover.

In The Dusk of Everything[edit]

In the early winter of 2011 he started writing for his next album after moving from Nashville, TN to a town just outside Pittsburgh, PA (the state where he was born!). In The Dusk of Everything was recorded and mixed between April and July 2012 and released on October 30, 2012. He made the record with the help of David Ricketts, the producer of his first album, May Day.[12]

An Anthem for the Broken[edit]

On February 26, 2014, Ryan released the first single, An Anthem for the Broken, from his yet-to-be-released album, contributing 100% of the proceeds to his friend John Anderson, who was fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The track features Brian Bequette on bass guitar, Brian Fallon and Kevin Salem on electric guitar, and Joe Magistro on drums.


After almost walking away from music, Ryan released Boxers in October 2014. This marked his return to recording with a full backing band. A new friendship with Brian Fallon reignited Ryan’s love of performing with a “gang” and brought him back to his love of creating music.

Hustle Up Starlings[edit]

Released in May 2017 Hustle Up Starlings was produced by Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem. It includes performances by Brian Bequette, Brian Fallon, David Henry, Doug Lancio and Brad Pemberton. It was mixed and recorded by Doug Lancio. And Hans DeKline once again mastered it into a shimmering film that makes it feel wildly welcoming.


Studio albums[edit]

Other Album Releases[edit]


Film and television placements[edit]

Tours of note[edit]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ MacKenzie, Wilson. "Artist Biography by MacKenzie Wilson". All Music. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  4. ^ Kukic, Adamm (October 5, 2014). "Blue-Collar Nostalgia: Matthew Ryan's "Boxers"". No Depression. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  5. ^ No Depression Magazine Jan/Feb 2007 Issue
  6. ^ Henderson, Alex. "AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson". All Music. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) – No Depression Archives
  8. ^ "Matthew Ryan Readies Second Album, 'East Autumn Grin,' Due for August 15 Release on A&M Records". PR NewsWire. Retrieved July 19, 2015.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) No Depression
  10. ^ Pulse of the Twin Cities – Locally Grown Alternative Newspaper
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]