Acoustic,  Rock

New Strays Don’t Sleep in U.S.


It took a while, but Strays Don’t Sleep‘s debut album will finally see its U.S. release next week (June 13th). Being a fan of Matthew Ryan’s work, I eagerly bought the UK import late last year and wasn’t disappointed. There’s something very fulfilling about Ryan’s music & lyrics. His solo work is full of quiet acoustic moments building up to blinding, power-chord crescendoes. Everything seems to fit into the right place. He knows just what note to hit, and just the lyric to plug in. Add the raw power of his singing voice, and I’m a happy listener.

Matthew Ryan

My favorite song of his is probably “Chrome”. It’s heartache, desperation, and hope. But it’s all of those emotions being released, and by the end of the song, you’ve gone from tense to feeling like a load’s been lifted. Like Springsteen, it’s so easy to step right into Matthew’s songs and feel like he’s singing about your own life, your own experiences.

Chrome (music & lyrics by Matthew Ryan)

It’s not the things that I can’t change, that bother me
It’s not the things that I don’t know, that undermine me
It’s not the thing that I can’t hold or the balancing wire that broke, that throws me
It’s not the fact that you walked out, that bewilders me
It’s not the sleep that I can’t steal, that wires me
It’s not the coffee or the pills it’s not this space that I can’t fill that kills me

Well in case you didn’t know I’ve got a heart made of chrome
It’s been bent ’til it was twisted
And in case you didn’t know I’ve got a heart made of chrome
It’s been burned, but it’s still willing to try
And shine

It’s not the drunks and their devices, that provoke me
It’s not the politics of love and distance, and all that that shit evokes in me
I’ts not the Sunday morning fights or this soul on ice, that numbs me
It’s not the passing of another Indian summer, that saddens me
It’s no the shutter in the undertow, that bears down on me
It’s not everything ending as it begins or the loneliness that grins that destroys me

Well in case you didn’t know I’ve got a heart made of chrome
It’s been bent ’til it was twisted
And in case you didn’t know I’ve got a heart made of chrome
It’s been burned, but it’s still willing to try and shine

I came across this live recording recently of Matthew and his band performing their last show on the European leg of their 1998 tour. It’s a great recording, thanks to a very quiet German crowd (sounds like a very small club show) at the Kultufabrik Krefeld (I assume that’s the name of the club? I can’t tell for sure from their web site. A little help, German readers?). Give these a listen, and see if you don’t understand a little of what I’m talking about.

Matthew Ryan – Live
June 28th, 1998
Kulturfabrik Krefeld, Germany

Watch Your Step
The Dead Girl
Beautiful Fool
Me & My Lover

Strays Don’t Sleep is basically a collaboration between Ryan and Neilson Hubbard, who is an accomplished artist in his own right.

Neilson Hubbard

Hubbard is a Jackson, Miss. native who teamed up with Ryan in Nashville. I like what I hear from what’s available on his web site, and also judging from earlier comments on a previous Strays post, I need to get around to listening to his albums.
Here’s a couple that I like, available from his site:

Neilson Hubbard: Just a Guy (mp3) | The Girl That Killed September (mp3)

What they’ve come up with is a sound that is subdued and fresh. It’s nice stuff. One of the songs, “For Blue Skies”, made its mark last year when it was featured on the TV show ‘One Tree Hill’.

So here comes the U.S. release. Here’s the tracks, with one preview:

Strays Don’t Sleep
Track listing:
Love Don’t Owe You Anything
Pretty Girl
Martin Luther Ave.
Night Is Still
For Blue Skies
Spirit Fingers
April’s Smiling At Me
Cars And History (mp3)
Falling Asleep With You

You Belong To Me

The package also includes a DVD with 9 short films inspired by the music. Strays kicks off their tour schedule this weekend with a record release show at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville. Check out their site for the dates. Unfortunately, they don’t go further west than Minneapolis.

June 16 UPDATE: Not so great news from Matthew Ryan’s blog regarding the upcoming tour:

Friday, June 16, 2006

Shows Cancelled

Hello Everyone

First bit of bad news in a long time. Strays needed to take a break from eachother for a minute. Neilson and I are at each other’s throats. I’m sure a couple weeks off will go a long way. I’ll keep you posted as things settle down.

Apologies to anyone that was looking forward to these shows. I’m hoping that we can pull it together for Conan O’Brien.



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