These are dark fucking times. As I write this there are fires and riots burning in London and Manchester. There's famine in Somalia. There's wars and unrest and large pockets of willful preoccupation. The world markets are grinding with unprecedented volatility. Politics in America are at an insolent stalemate with forces from the extremes pulling a gun on democracy. Natural and human disasters come at a punctuated and seemingly constant pulse: Japan, Norway, Joplin, work, debt, foreclosures, floods… I could go on and on but you don't really need a recap do you? I mean we're all living it. And no matter how hard you might wanna tune out, it just keeps coming in waves of cold static.
So I wrote an album in defense of our humanity amid the modern conflict and its constant blizzardy assault. It's called I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall. The title and the sonic approach of the songs on it are a nod to David Bowie, Heroes era Bowie in particular. It wasn't my intention to make a gloomy album. I know it will be perceived that way by some, but these are fighter songs that are fully aware that tomorrow will be exactly what we allow it to be. It's funny and true that my intention initially was to deliver a lighter, folkier collection of songs that dealt in beauty, space and contentment. I mean for me personally, things really aren't that bad and I wasn't in a particularly bad mood when I sat down to write these songs. Needless to say, the world crept in and I set off trying to make sense of the times we're living in, times as blurry and worried as these.
The war-like layers and blitzkrieg approach of Berlin era Bowie made sense to me for IRSATNCF. So I looked for what that sounded like to me. I tried to shape it into something that felt uniquely mine, but also with all due respect and ambition, I wanted it to sound and feel like a distant brother of Heroes crawling towards your ear with his heart in his throat. The stories mean everything in my work, so I offer them with the vocal loud, the words clean and the motives clear even while missiles and traffic whistle by. All in the hopes that an intimacy erupts with that honest acknowledgment that it is a complex waltz being human in these complex times. I have no desire to pretend otherwise, escapism is someone else's lot. So at its root the message is that all is never lost, and I'll say it again, tomorrow will be exactly what we allow it to be. And that really is the only reason why you write an album like this. All the particulars, all the sub plots, all the dramas and hopes and disappointments and fumbling situations in these songs lead to that singular idea.
As far as touring these songs, I plan on stripping them down to skin and bone with a small band. The work we've already been doing with the songs shows an anthemic rawness. I've always felt albums and shows should be different from each other. In a perfect world albums are not just felt once, but ruminated upon over time so that they bloom completely when the right moment for a song intersects with the cinema in one's own life. Truth is, my songs are more often than not dependant on that. A show on the other hand should be more like a boxing match, graceful and powerful with our humanity ignited for better or for worse. And always pointing towards redemption. Dates for the album release tour will be announced soon here: http://matthewryanonline.com/tourdates.cfm
In the coming weeks I plan to write about every song on the CD version of I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall. There are 17 new songs total including the bonus disc. So keep an eye out for new posts. We'll do all we can via our social networks to let you know when a new one arrives. Hopefully they'll offer some more context and insight into the songs, maybe even a laugh or two. Hopefully it will spark some conversation here. But you know, context is everything in this new world of speed, quickness and brevity. So I'm gonna do it the old-fashioned way: long-winded self-obsessed dissertations. I won't necessarily do them in order of the track list. I'll just do them as they feel right to do.
If you haven't heard I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall you can preview it in its entirety here:
Here's a preview to give you an idea of what the songs will sound like live (thanks to WIGBY for recording this version of All Of That Means Nothing Now):