Matthew Ryan has always been a rather prolific artist, but the last four years in particular have seen him producing more material than ever, resulting in three full length albums since 2009. Dear Lover was even released in a second, acoustic version during this time frame. Now as 2012 comes to a close Ryan has released the final album in his current trilogy with In The Dusk Of Everything.
Ryan once again explores the human condition, both personal and universal, but unlike Dear Lover or last year’s I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall, this is a stripped down affair. Gone are the electronic flourishes, heavy beats and fully arranged rock tracks, abandoned for an album full of stark acoustics. After the gorgeous orchestral opener “Lonely Not Homesick”, the majority of In The Dusk Of Everything is simply Ryan and acoustic guitar, laid bare, shooting straight from the heart.
I’ve made no secret in the past, I consider Ryan one of the finest songwriters working today and he once again does nothing to change that opinion. Whereas I Recall Standing took on many of the ills of our modern world, the new album returns to the more personal themes explored on Dear Lover. They may not be personal stories from Ryan’s life, but they serve as an exploration of the deeper issues we face in relationships. With song titles like “I Hate Everyone”, “Stupid World” and “Amy, I’m Letting Go”, it would be a safe assumption there are not a lot of happy conclusions here.
But Ryan doesn’t have to paint happy pictures, it’s his brutal honesty and maturity that I most love about his work, and his role as a commentator on both the world and the music industry. As someone who has played both the major label game and the current, independent, Internet reliant landscape music has become, I can think of few artists whose opinion I respect more and whose music has moved me more in the last four years. From the the blunt declarations in “And So It Goes’, (‘I don’t care if you want me now, it’s too late’), to the realization of needing to move on of “She’s A Sparrow”, this is yet another painfully emotional human journey in the hands of a master craftsman.