Matthew Ryan (born Ryan Webb; November 7, 1971) is an American alternative country singer-songwriter. Ryan has also collaborated with Neilson Hubbard to form the band Strays Don't Sleep. Ryan's voice has been described as a "hushed rasp, with words catching like vows destined to be broken - one of modern music's most potent whispers." Like the Jayhawks, Son Volt and other artists from the late 1990s alternative country scene, Ryan has a dedicated following but only limited commercial success.
Matthew Ryan arrived on the music scene in 1997 with May Day, his first record. The album was released on A&M and reflected the influences of Tom Waits, The Waterboys and Bruce Springsteen. A video was made for "Guilty". The album is considered a classic of the genre.
East Autumn Grin
East Autumn Grin, Ryan's second record, was released in 2000. The album failed to become the commercial success the label had hoped, and Ryan was dropped.
After being dropped by Interscope Records Ryan started working on demo material with David Henry. The material was stark and bare, Concussion was recorded and mixed in 8 days with Richard McLaurin. It was released in 2001 on Nashville, Tennessee label WaxySilver and features a duet with Lucinda Williams. Ryan was asked by actor/director Edward Burns to contribute a song to his film Ash Wednesday. "Be Thou My Vision" was used on the closing credits of the film. Ryan opened tours for Kasey Chambers and Lucinda Williams for much of 2001, along with his own headlining shows.
2002 was a quiet period for Ryan, eventually releasing two collections of Stereo-Pak demo recordings, Dissent from the Living Room and Hopeless to Hopeful. These were made available on CDR through Ryan’s website.
Regret Over the Wires
Ryan started recording again on February 2003, Regret Over the Wires was released in late 2003 by Hybrid Recordings. In April, Concussion was released in the UK and Europe through One Little Indian Records. This included a UK tour with label mate Jeff Klein. On September 9, 2003, One Little Indian Records also released Happiness in the UK and Europe only, a collection of songs taken from Ryan’s self-distributed collections Dissent from the Living Room and Hopeless to Hopeful. Ryan made another self-distributed release in December entitled These Are Field Recordings, a two-disc collection of live recordings and early tracks.
Strays Don't Sleep
Matthew Ryan approached Neilson Hubbard in 2004 about a collaboration, which could result in an interesting self-distributed release for fans. The collaboration was much more successful than expected and Strays Don't Sleep was formed with Neilson Hubbard, Brian Bequette, Billy Mercer and Steve Latanation.
In the Autumn 2005 Strays Don't Sleep's debut self-titled album was released in the UK on One Little Indian Records. The release includes a DVD of short films that were directed and shot by professional filmmakers and friends, including Gorman Bechard, The Barnes Brothers, Martin Glenn, Matt Boyd and Jared Johnson. Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard also directed three of the short films with the help of Nashville film student, Matt Riddlehoover. A 5.1 surround sound mix of the entire record and films, by Paul PDub Walton of Björk and Sneaker Pimps fame, is available on the DVD.
Strays Don't Sleep was released to great reviews from Time Out, Uncut, The Sunday Express and The Times. The success helped secure a US release, which was helped further by a placement in the hit CW (former WB) drama One Tree Hill. "For Blue Skies", a song concerning the sentencing of Matthew Ryan’s brother to 30 years in prison, was made available on the One Tree Hill Soundtracks. Strays Don't Sleep toured the UK with Josh Rouse to support the album. Strays Don't Sleep was officially disbanded mid-2006. Their Music Video DVD Album "Strays Don't Sleep" with each song presented by a different director, won the top Award - The Grand Remi for Best Music Video - at the 2006 WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival in April 2006. The group performed in person at the Remi Awards Gala dinner for 500 international filmmakers to a standing ovation. They disbanded shortly after this remarkable performance.
From a Late Night High Rise
In 2006 Ryan completed recording for another solo album called From a Late Night High Rise. It's a collection of songs inspired by the death of a friend and the sentencing of Ryan’s brother to 30 years in prison. The album feature band members from Strays Don't Sleep and was self-produced with Neilson Hubbard. From a Late Night High Rise was released on December 5, 2006 through 2minutes59 and iTunes, and Ryan embarked on a US tour with Tim Easton in February 2007. From a Late Night High Rise was met with the strongest wave of critical support Ryan has received to date. It was praised as "A must-hear, have-to-own epic of an album that should be required listening for every songwriter—and music lover—in the world."
Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State
In 2008 Ryan released his next album: Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State (or "MRVSS") on 00:02:59 and One Little Indian Records. Exclusive internet-only downloads of the album also included the song "Rainy Night in Soho" (a cover version of a song by The Pogues). Following the release of the album, Ryan toured the US to support its release with a full band.
Dear Lover, Matthew Ryan's next studio album, was released in October 2009. Followed in May 2010 by a stripped down version of the album: Dear Lover (The Acoustic Version).
I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall
In June 2010 he started recording I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall in his Nashville home studio, which he wouldn't finish until April 2011. In between he did an Italian tour in October 2010 to promote Dear Lover.
In The Dusk Of Everything
In the early winter of 2011 he started writing for his next album after moving from Nashville, TN to a town just outside of Pittsburgh, PA (the state where he was born!). In The Dusk Of Everything was recorded and mixed between April and July 2012 and released on 30 October 2012. He made the record with the help of David Ricketts, the producer of his first album, May Day.
An Anthem for the Broken
On February 26, 2014, Ryan released the first single, , from his yet-to-be-released album, contributing 100% of the proceeds to his friend John Anderson, who is fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The track features Brian Bequette on bass guitar, Brian Fallon and Kevin Salem on electric guitar, and Joe Magistro on drums.
- May Day (1997, A&M Records)
- East Autumn Grin (2000, A&M Records)
- Concussion (2001, Waxy Silver Records; 2003, One Little Indian)
- Regret Over the Wires (2003, Hybrid Recordings)
- From a Late Night High Rise (2006, 259 Records (00:02:59))
- Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State (2008, 259 Records (00:02:59) & One Little Indian)
- Dear Lover (2009, The Dear Future Collective)
- Dear Lover (The Acoustic Version) (2010, The Dear Future Collective)
- I Recall Standing As Though Nothing Could Fall (2011, The Dear Future Collective)
- In The Dusk of Everything (2012, Plastic Violin)
Other Album Releases
- Dissent from the Living Room (2002, self-distributed release)
- Hopeless to Hopeful (2002, self-distributed release)
- Happiness (2003, One Little Indian)
- These Are Field Recordings (2004, self-distributed release)
- With Strays Don't Sleep - Strays Don't Sleep (2006, One Little Indian)
- Christmas Songs (2000) - "Little Drummer Boy"
- Ash Wednesday (soundtrack) (2003) - "Be Thou My Vision"
- Light of Day: Tribute to Bruce Springsteen (2003) - "Something in the Night"
- The Sandinista Project (A Tribute To The Clash) (2007) - "Somebody Got Murdered"
- Song of America (2007) - "Youngstown"
- Folk Music for the End of the World (2007) - "Gone For Good"
- Summer's Kiss: A Tribute to the Afghan Whigs (2009) - "The Slide Song"
- Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to B. Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home (2010) - "Forever Young" (bonus track)
- Paint It Black: An Alt Country Tribute To The Rolling Stones (2011) - "Streets Of Love"
- Keep Hoping Machine Running: Songs of Woody Guthrie (2012) - "Little Darling"
Film and television placements
- Late Night with Conan O'Brien – December 9, 1997 and June 28, 2006
- Late Show with David Letterman – April 21, 1998
- One Tree Hill – "Return to Me", "Irrelevant", "I Can't Steal You", "For Blue Skies", "Jane I Still Feel The Same", "Some Streets Lead Nowhere"
- One Tree Hill Soundtrack Vol. 2 – "For Blue Skies"
- Ash Wednesday – "Be Thou My Vision"
- Ash Wednesday soundtrack – "Be Thou My Vision"
- Medical Investigation – End song
- Dawson's Creek – "Watch Your Step", "Chrome", "Return to Me"
- The Florentine – 1 placement
- The 24th Day – 2 placements
- NPR buffer music – "For Blue Skies"
- You Are Alone – "Cars and History", "Too Soon to Tell", "I'm an American"
- House (TV series) – "House Training" episode – "Follow the Leader"
- The Unit – "Hero" episode – "Jane, I Still Feel The Same"
Tours of note
- Lucinda Williams
- Badly Drawn Boy
- Turin Brakes
- Nanci Griffith
- Steve Earle
- Gary Jules
- Kasey Chambers
- Josh Rouse
- Tommy Stinson
- Jon Dee Graham
- No Depression Magazine Jan/Feb 2007 Issue
- on Myspace