It happens often that the main songwriter in a band has many other songs in his portfolio that either are not a right fit for the band’s style or are rejected by the rest of the band. This doesn’t mean that they are bad songs but they get put on the back burner while working to perfect what the current band is doing. Sometimes these songs need to break out and be heard, this is when a solo album has to be released to get these songs into the ears of the public and let them decide where they fit. This is the case with the solo album released a few weeks ago by Ryan Hughes.
Ryan is the former front man of successful bands such as Motel Matches and NC-17. His past was heavily influenced by the pop punk genre but he steps into a different area here with his solo work. When I say solo, I really mean solo. He took full control of this record and its quality as each song was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Ryan himself. In true D.I.Y. fashion, he played every instrument himself – including drums, piano, guitar, bass, and all layers of vocals.
Ryan Hughes has titled his new record Debtors And Lenders which I believe is an homage to both his musical past and his influences that were not heard on previous full band albums. This record is definitely more stripped down and has an almost intimate feel like Ryan is performing these songs only for you. With songs like ‘Repose’ he strips down to a simple drum and piano beat to let the listener focus on the heartfelt lyrics. The opening track ‘Inside Your Love’ is almost sludgy with a keyboard tone and line that push the track ahead and make it feel dirty even as the vocals still seem sweet and loveable in Ryan’s trademark style. My favorite track on the record is probably ‘Miracle In Cure’. A mellow spooky song that reminds me of Grandaddy. The haunting piano chords are slow and deliberate to accentuate the darkness of the song. It does pick up towards the middle of the song as more and more instruments are introduced to play with all sections of your brain making it a song you need to listen to multiple times to try to get all the nuances Ryan puts into it.
Bottom Line: Ryan Hughes does something different here on Debtors And Lenders while still staying true to his songwriting skills and introduces the listener into another section of his soul. He welcomes you with open arms. Listen here: