In The Autumn of 2020 Strays Don't Sleep will be releasing their first new music in 15 years!
Strays Don’t Sleep // A Short Film for a Long Story (Release: October 30th, 2020)
When the ambient folk duo Strays Don't Sleep released their self-titled debut in 2005, bandmates Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard were still in the early stages of their careers.
Ryan — already a celebrated songwriter whose albums mined the intersection of folk, punk, and smart, compassionate blue-collar roots-rock — would go on to release 12 acclaimed recordings over the next 14 years, mixing sharply-written autobiography with character-driven songs about heartbreak, hope, and humanity. Meanwhile, Hubbard's stature as one of Nashville's go-to producers, engineers, and videographers would grow to greater heights during the 2010s, a decade that found him working with everyone from Mary Gauthier (on the Grammy-nominated Rifles & Rosary Beads) to John Prine.
As each artist’s solo career began to take off, Strays Don't Sleep was quietly put on the back burner. While Ryan and Hubbard gained more and more notoriety individually, Strays Don't Sleep — the eponymous album they'd recorded in Nashville, released on Bjork's record label, and supported with plenty of touring on both sides of the Atlantic — only grew in renown. A cult favorite and critical triumph, the album became a commercial success during the streaming era, with the single "For Blue Skies" racking up nearly 4 million plays on Spotify alone. Even in hibernation, Strays Don't Sleep couldn't help but leave a mark.
Now in 2020, A Short Film for a Long Story brings Ryan and Hubbard back together for the first time in 15 years. Rooted in minimalism, melody, and moody atmosphere, the four-song EP offers up its own brand of earthy, cinematic indie-folk. It's hushed one minute and calmly anthemic the next, with organic soundscapes punctuated by acoustic guitar, upright piano, drums, and the interplay between Ryan and Hubbard's disparate voices. You could call it a collection of honest lullabies for adults. The songs — driven forward by lyrics about prizing our collective humanity above destruction — make a strong case for turning on and tuning in, rather than dropping out.
A Short Film for a Long Story was recorded in East Nashville, making use of their studio's high ceilings to fill the music with a sense of ethereal, spacey ambiance. They wrote the songs together, drawing not only upon the collaborative spark that fueled Strays Don't Sleep's original fire back in 2005, but also upon the creative skills they'd both sharpened during the 15 years since. The goal was to make a record that sounded distinctly human — a record that used technology to widen the sound, while still maintaining an organic core.
A Short Film for a Long Story unfolds like the soundtrack to a 16-minute montage in some art movie, with each song building upon the next. The themes (perseverance, reclamation, and an embracement of the joys of being alive) are universal enough, but the sound itself belongs to Strays Don't Sleep, even as it also nods to Tom Waits, Frank Sinatra, Bjork, and other artists who fill their own music with nocturnal nuances.
15 years after introducing Strays Don't Sleep to the world, Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard are still making music worth staying up for.
In the meantime reacquaint yourself with their debut via the streaming outlets right HERE, to date "For Blue Skies" from their self-titled debut has enjoyed nearly 3.8 Million plays on Spotify alone. The forthcoming collection is an even further exploration of minimalism, language, beauty and cinematic sounds. It feels like a natural extension of the debut though more rooted in an earthy American wide-screen.