In The Dusk Of Everything
Label: Matthew Ryan
Release: October 30, 2012
Reviewed: October 28, 2012
Songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Ryan is releasing his 15th album In The Dusk Of Everything on Tuesday and what an album it is! The timelessly modern and spare qualities of the dozen songs move with an earthy cinema where the vocals live front and center, while the music ebbs and flows like stark scenery in a grainy but saturated film. It is a folky mood record that distills the universal story of two people seeking redemptive shelter amid the violence, beauty and uncertainty that life brings. It moves with that always fascinating voice that just keeps imploring listeners to walk with him into ever stranger and more compellingly honest spaces. These songs bear witness to an artist that continues to evolve, search and deliver stories that become more articulate and focused with each passing year.
In the Dusk of Everything is the final part of a trilogy that started in 2010 with Dear Lover. That album was the singer-songwriter's exploration of some very private events that cracked him wide open and served as a catalyst to change how he viewed the world and himself. That journey continued with I Recall Standing as Though Nothing Could Fall which unloaded an epic and unflinching look at the world outside. And now, with In the Dusk of Everything, Ryan offers a profoundly quiet and cinematic sense of closure where listeners are invited to step into a filmic collection of vignettes that lean towards redemptive unity. He shares, “I wanted to make a modern folk record. I wanted it to feel like an autumnal film where each song waltzed into the next, where the story unfolded without any bluster other than what happens in the story. The songs were all written from different perspectives, from male to female, sometimes in the same verse. It was the only way that I felt I could really get to the root of what happens between men and women in their wrestling with mortality, the mortality of dreams, intimacy, despair and trust. Again, together and alone, there’s a responsibility we have to the future and real love with all its darkness at times. I feel a bigger story is being told through this seemingly small lens.”
Over the years Ryan has been celebrated for his poetic lyricism. His work challenges listeners in so many ways, always cutting to the bone with a rare honesty that isn’t prone to offer easy answers. And sonically, his production choices have followed suit. It's as if his voice and words offers the scene while the music offers the weather. The minimalist folk on In the Dusk of Everything is as intimate, direct, and raw as he has ever been, where the spare keyboards in the arrangements are a perfect and moody grey like the East Berlin skies of Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire and the pacing is so beautifully purposeful it feels like the aural cousin of Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River. Pianos, organs, strings, and other instruments make appearances throughout, but the overwhelming sense of the record is that the singer went to the studio, sat down with a guitar, and just opened a vein.
It’s almost as if too much ornamentation might overshadow the words, and it’s so important to Ryan that we hear what he’s saying. The songwriter can turn a clever phrase as well as anyone, but some of his most profound moments come when he’s just trying to cut through all the noise to find a distilled truth. As in “Stupid World” where he concludes:
“Some suffer a blindness
Of wild disappointment
Despite good intentions
I showed her my scars then
She showed me her bruises
You’re someone’s salvation
In a stupid world”
In many ways, In the Dusk of Everything brings Matthew Ryan to a moment of fully realized vision. He has returned to his creative origin by collaborating again with Producer David Ricketts, who was behind the board for his debut May Day.
If you haven’t heard of Matthew Ryan before but you love the sound and music of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Nils Lofgren, then you’re going to absolutely love Matthew Ryan. Pick up or download In The Dusk of Everything. When you give it a listen or two, you’ll be chasing down his other 14 albums.