Artist: Matthew Ryan
Album: I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall
Release Dates: Digital 7.26.11 Record Stores: 8.23.11
“And my thought now is, could the world ever be as kind as I thought it was then?” – Matthew Ryan Here Comes The Snow
I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall is the 13th release by the Philadelphia-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Matthew Ryan. Set in the current deluge of the information age, it’s an epic collection of filmic vignettes that communicate in vivid detail the plots, heartaches, intimacies and fears of Ryan’s characters. Building upon the atmospheres of his previous albums East Autumn Grin, From A Late Night High Rise and Dear Lover, Ryan has exacted a muscular ambiance that marries perfectly with the experimental beats and natural instrumentations on I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall. Ultimately, the effect is that of a warm autumnal album that is on the verge of winter.
There’s nothing precious about the songs here, but rather Matthew Ryan’s incisive view of how and why we do what we do. Whether it’s the provocatively imploring anthem “Hey Kid,” or the grinding, barely suppressed rage of “All Hail The Kings Of Trash,” or the late-night Sinatra-esque longing of “Song For A Friend,” this is a record that covers a lot of ground as it keeps its focus on the individual. Images of dresses on the floor, planes floating through snow, drunken proclamations and silenced lovers all glide by while not only blurring the lines between heroes and villains, but also blurring the borders between genres. “I Want Peace” thumps and prowls with the urban rumble of hip-hop, “Harmonium Song” sounds a hundred years old with its sorrowful Irish melody and “All of That Means Nothing Now” careens with that broken-hearted seethe that harks back to the air that punctuated much of Ryan’s earlier work on May Day. No stone is left unturned on I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, and together it all forms a perfect mosaic of Ryan’s view of the modern struggle where despair and optimism coexist and perseverance alone resembles victory.
Matthew Ryan started recording I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall in his Nashville home studio in June of 2010. He wouldn’t finish until April of 2011. Excluding a european tour, a film score and a brief vacation it was a day and night affair. That kind of commitment and isolation could drive anyone mad, but luckily it wasn’t a solitary process, I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall is possibly Ryan’s most collaborative album to date. For the first time since 2008 Ryan invited a producer into the process by having Greg Richling produce “Hey Kid,” and the long list of friends that contributed range from Olly Knights of Turin Brakes, Katie Herzig, Patrick O’Hearn, Stanton Adcock, Amanda Shires, Chris Tench, and Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson of the ambient duo Hammock. Long time collaborators Brian Bequette, Kate York, Billy Mercer, Molly Thomas and Strays Don’t Sleep cohort Neilson Hubbard also chimed in with their talents.
I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall contains some of the most immediate and compelling songs of Matthew Ryan’s already quietly luminous career. But above all, as is common with his work, it operates best as a whole. Every song on this album is integral to the overall story, each thought and melody leads to the next until eventually there’s conclusion. Novella, film-like, conceptual; all of these words have been used to describe his work before, I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall is no different. But there is a very clear through line to be found on his new effort, it’s exhibited in “Here Comes the Snow,” a song which borrows heavily (and intentionally) from Bob Dylan’s “Visions of Johanna.” The narrator follows the course of his life from the present back to childhood and asks, “And my thought now is, could the world ever be as kind as I thought it was then?”