Matthew Ryan can write a song and make you feel it in no time at all. He’s got it; he understands the craft. And on this, his newest album, Boxers, he’s got a solid winner. His songwriting style is of someone who has lived and experienced reality – life’s good and bad sides; it never sounds forced or playing at being a lyricist. There is a purity in his songs that I haven’t found in a long time – and it’s welcome and refreshing. As is the emotion that’s wrung out of his voice, which at times reminded me of Paul Westerberg. The musicianship is masterful and the production by guitarist Kevin Salem (a legend in his own right and in my opinion) is top notch. Everything about this album is right.
The title track, “Boxers” has a nice opening and immediately grabs you with its’ melody and the stellar production. “The First Heartbreak” is a sad, yet upbeat number; “Heaven’s Hill” is a strident and catchy sing-song. “God’s Not Here Tonight” is simply excellent – a highlight and “We Are Libertines” is a haunting acoustic offering. “Then She Threw Me Like A Hand Grenade” opens with a mournful E-bow; an open letter than I think many of us wish we could write (“…you might be lonely, but you’re not alone…”); easily my personal favorite from this collection. And “If You’re Not Happy” is a dark, quiet and atmospheric piece that closes this collection in perfect style.
If you haven’t checked out Matthew Ryan’s work before, you must. And Boxers is a very, very fine place to start. You’ll come back to this album over and over again.
Boxers will be released October 14th