Matthew Ryan – Hustle Up Starlings (Rating 4 out of 5)
To prime the musical pump a bit, Hustle Up Starlings, the latest long player by Matthew Ryan, is best enjoyed by going back a year or so and giving his album Boxers a serious listen before you embark on new territory. The two records are pretty much companion pieces with Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem fame making a guest appearance on the former, and performance first chair production duties on the new record. The Yin and the Yang of this listening exercise will expose you first to the anthemic “Born to Run” Matthew Ryan, followed up with the slightly more subdued “You Can’t Back Down” Tom Petty and REM inspired Mojo of this most excellent new release.
With the deep rasp of a voice that sounds like he just finished his last couple of packs of nicorette, think Pussy Cats era Harry Nilsson, Ryan blends slow worn weary ballads on songs like “It’s a Delicate Waltz” where he starts low, and jaunts his way along slowly picking up the tempo to a delicate crescendo. On “(I Just Died) Like an Aviator, pound for pound the best song on the record, you get a glimpse into the world of Matthew Ryan where real happiness seems to be a banana peel away.
On the title track, “Hustle Up Starlings,” things get subdued a bit reminiscing over a lost love, and on “Battle Born” things seems to be back on track. There is something to like on virtually every cut of this record, if you like singer like Butch Walker, Jesse Malin and Chuck Prophet, you will love Matthew Ryan.