Today is a day I've been looking forward to with great anticipation for many months now. During the Strays Don't Sleep Tour, Matthew Ryan announced that we would see a new solo album from him before 2006 ends. A few months ago, he announced that December 5th would be the day, but that his album would only be available through his website. Several years ago Riche ordered a homemade Matthew Ryan album from his website and a couple years ago, I too ordered one. I know he has a loyal fan base, but distribution solely through MatthewRyanOnline.com seemed like it limited his exposure quite a bit. It wasn't until just the last few weeks that I discovered that he would also be releasing it electronically through iTunes Store. Today is the day that it released. I'd heard several of the songs before my purchase this morning, as he's been faithful with releasing songs via his myspace page, but having all 12 tracks on my iPod makes all the difference.
Matthew Ryan comes through with another great album to add to his portfolio. I'm happy to say I'm not alone in saying this as Paste Magazine gave From a Late Night High Rise 4 and a half stars. And you might remember from Managing Editor Reid Davis' comment on this blog a few months ago "Five stars indicates an album for the ages (think Sgt. Pepper's, Blonde on Blonde, Doolittle, etc.) which may explain the reluctance to award it." A half of a star away from an album for the ages is definitely noteworthy. Although Paste misprinted his website (a pretty big snafu if you ask me, as it is one of the only channels for distribution) as MatthewRyan.com (which is an interesting website if you're not looking for great music).
In this new age where a confluence of technology and entrepreneurship among artists allows them to produce and distribute their own music the way they want to, Matthew Ryan still receives reviews in major music magazines and online and they're good reviews to boot.
The album itself is a combination of more electronic music than we are used to hearing from Ryan, but all the comparisons to Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen still hold true. It's less Alt-Country than some of his previous work, but the songwriting, the raw emotion, and the energy that have attracted thousands of loyal fans over the years are all there. From a Late Night High Rise is a good entry point if you haven't spent any time with Matthew Ryan yet, though every album he's released is somewhere between 4.5 stars and 5 stars whether he made it himself or his early big record company releases.