From the venue:
Singer-songwriter Mike Ryan has achieved impressive accolades in just under 10 years, building a career independently that’s not only earned the devotion of fans, but the respect of other artists and notables in
the music industry. Mike Ryan is just that caliber of talent. His gift as a songwriter has led to collaborations with such major label acts as Brad Paisley and Brandy Clark, and he has opened for some of the biggest names in the business, including Miranda Lambert, Hardy and Morgan Wallen, in addition to selling out his own headlining gigs. At times, even selling more tickets than major label acts with top ten singles. It’s a coup he’s managed to pull off thanks to hard work and undeniable talent. Ryan co-wrote Paisley’s Top 20 “Last Time For Everything,” and his songs have garnered over 265 million streams with 10 of them earning over ten million streams, 19 of them earning more than four million streams and 27 of them earning more than one million streams.
Now after five years, Ryan has returned with Longcut, a 13-track collection that spotlights his growth as an artist and songwriter, and the broader emotional palette he paints from now as a father with two young sons with more life experience under his belt. The songs run the gamut from the playful drinking song “Off My Thinker” to the soulful anthem “All My Songs” and the album’s intriguing closer “Forgiveness and Rain,” a portrait of a farmer and son wrestling with the guilt of raising questionable crops.
“I felt all along every project that I’ve put out has been better than the last one,” Ryan says. We’ve been working for years on some of these songs and that was one thing that was unique to this record. We had these songs for a while and lived with them. After a while, I felt like I wanted to change things and I’ve never really had the ability to do that with albums in the past. It’s taken me a little bit longer and it’s definitely a different album in some ways than it would have been if I would have put it out a couple of years ago, but I think it’s only become better.”
There’s an edge to this album and a more expansive feel because Covid led to a more relaxed timeline. There was no need to rush. Ryan, his co-writers and producers Bart Butler and Ryan Gore took their time and as a result the up-tempo tracks kick harder and the poignant ballads pack more emotional punch. There’s an intensity and maturity in this collection that signal a new chapter for Ryan. His musical integrity is firmly intact, yet there’s a much more mainstream, radio-ready feel to these songs.
“There’s definitely been some sonic growth. We’ve used a different producer this time than I have in the years past,” Ryan says of Butler, known for his work with Randall King and Jon Pardi among others. “Brent
Anderson has produced a lot of my stuff and several of these songs were written with Brent. He ended up producing ƒ¢¢€š¬‹Å“Forgiveness and Rain’ as well so he’s still there, but it was my first time working with a producer outside of Brent. Bart brought in some new players and different elements that I just thought were really crucial in making this album sound as good as it does and I’m excited about that. Working with Bart was really cool, and he’s become a good friend of mine.”
Though Ryan co-wrote songs on the album, he was also open to contributions from outside writers and some of the most distinguished names in Music City share their top shelf songs on his new project. Hillary
Lindsey, Gordy Sampson and Colin Elmore penned “Loser.” “Way it Goes” was written by Phil Vassar, Brett Sherokey and Andrew Peeples. Adam Hood and Pat McGlaughlin crafted “Gonna Take a Woman.” Brandon Kinney and Josh Thompson wrote “Won’t Slow Down” and “Off my Thinker,” with award winner Ben Hayslip joining them on the latter cut.
Ryan’s own songwriting skills are what initially gained him notice in Nashville and landed him a publishing deal early in his career. Always a respected songwriter, his creativity and work ethic has attracted
some A-list collaborators, including Brent Anderson, Smith Ahnquist, Chris DuBois and Brandy Clark. The latter joined Ryan and Anderson to pen “Jacket On,” an uptempo look at a disgruntled lover who says hell would freeze over before she ever came home yet her man ends up sharing, “I guess the devil’s got his jacket on.” CMA Award winner Jenee Fleenor adds her signature fiddle skills to the infectious song.
Always looking to improve his skills, Ryan also worked with a vocal coach who changed his approach. “Between the last album and this one I have changed the way I sing a little bit,” he shares. “I started taking vocal lessons and learning a little bit different technique because in some of the live shows I was noticing I was running out of gas towards the end of the set. When playing three or four nights in a row, I was really struggling the last night, and it turns out I was not quite taking care of myself the way I need to be. So, I learned a few warmup and cool down techniques and then just some basic stuff about why voices work the way they do and what can cause them to not work as good. I sing just a little bit different because of those lessons and it’s helped me do a lot better on multi-show runs.”
That newfound vocal strength and increased confidence are on full display on Ryan’s new record, particularly on such incendiary tracks as the current single “Die Runnin.’” Ryan is looking forward to flexing his
new vocal skills as when he opens for Wallen at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas. “We’ve gotten to do a bunch of arenas and amphitheaters and stuff, but this is the first stadium and for it to be at Globe Life, that’s just going to be nuts,” the proud Texan says of entertaining the rabid fans in his home state. “We’re based in the DFW area and I’ve played pretty much everywhere you can play in and around that stadium, but this will be the first time performing inside of it and for a crowd like that, I can’t even imagine. It’s going to be so wild.”
Such a gig is a dream come true for a talented kid who grew up absorbing a variety of music including The Eagles, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Elton John in addition to such country legends as George Strait, Clint Black, Tim McGraw and Garth Brooks. “The first song I ever learned how to play was a Bob Seger song,” he recalls, “but I grew up in the 90’s and so I was listening to 90’s music every single day and that is still my favorite era of country music.”
Ryan was also inspired by his grandfather, who directed the Texas National Guard Band for three decades. “The first instruments that I played were in his living room,” Ryan recalls. “Being a band director, he
had a basic knowledge of just about every instrument under the sun and he had most of those at his disposal at the house. So, he’d pull one out and had me play it for a while, and then if I liked it, I’d keep playing. If I didn’t, he’d pull out another one and so we’d just go down the line. He made a living out of showing people how cool and how much fun you can have playing music and how it just really changes people’s lives in a lot of different ways.”
By the time Ryan was in college, he was making his own music and building an audience on the competitive Texas music scene. “I put a band together and every step of the way was just encouraged by what I
saw and what happened,” says Ryan, who became a regular at Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky tonk and mecca for every hungry artist looking to make a name. “There were definitely some times where I was living pretty lean and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make my bills but it was all part of the process.”
These days, those years of hard work are paying off as he has since scored nine No. 1 songs on the Texas music charts, and his previously-released album Blink You’ll Miss It landed at No. 15 on the Billboard
Heatseekers Albums chart and in the top 40 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart. His music has been embraced nationwide and he packs venues from the West Coast to the Southeast and several places in
between. He’s got a new album he’s proud of and a stacked itinerary.
“We’re certainly enjoying our time and playing a lot of really fun shows. It’s just great to be out there and continue working for as long as we have,” says Ryan, who is booked by WME. “The live shows are my favorite part of the business, and we never really slow down. We’re always playing, which is great.”