From a Late Night High Rise
From a Late Night High Rise may have been released just a little too late to be considered for many critics’ end-of-year highlights lists, but it’s such a brilliant, enduring record that it is sure to still be in contention for high praise come the end of 2007.
On his website, Ryan himself calls From a Late Night High Rise “the most beautiful collection of songs I’ve made yet,” and song after song on this record prove this is no empty hyperbole. Written in the aftermath of the death of a close friend and after his brother was sentenced to 30 years in prison, this disc is the crowning achievement of a nine-album career and melds cathartic honesty, optimism and desperate despair in an irresistible combination.
The dark “Follow The Leader” sets the tone for what, given its context, could be a deeply depressing listen, but after such a stark opener, “Never Look Back” and Ryan’s collaboration with Garrison Starr, “Babybird,” quickly emphasize the haunting melodies and plaintive vocals that dominate his compositions. The electric “Misundercould” bristles with intensity and contrasts with acoustic material such as the sparse “Gone For Good” and the harrowing, synth-based “Everybody Always Leaves.” “Love Is The Silencer” is perhaps a little too chaotic, but one aberration can be easily forgiven upon hearing Ryan’s breathtaking cover of Grant McClennan’s “Providence,” which somehow manages to transcend the fragile beauty of the original, partly as a result of Neilson Hubbard’s flawless production.
As atmospheric as its title suggests, From a Late Night High Rise is at times an uncomfortable and unsettling listen, but it’s also extremely powerful and touching that it is destined to be one of the most unforgettable releases of this year or next.
Matthew Ryan: www.matthewryanonline.com