I spent a good part of today listening to his records, and although I won't threaten to stand on Dylan or Earle's coffee tables, repeat listens reinforce my firm belief that Matthew Ryan is one of the best songwriters around today. However, just like film and books, most of the best music out there rarely spreads beyond those who dig to find it. All three of these artforms, on a large level, are businesses. Morons in suits with godawful taste put their money behind the most watered-down, thoughtless crap; "art" that some mid-level marketing exec. in Jordache's and a tight dragon-design blouse "discovered". Film studious churn out garbage like, I don't know, "I Am Legend" or "Indiana Jones and the Crystal of Something". The big book publishers stuff us with "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Kite Runner". And the music business, possibly the most hilarious of the three, tells us that Coldplay and Taylor Swift are the best out there.
If you can take a step away from American Idol, the new season of Lost or U2's upcoming clunker, it'd serve everyone well to listen to one of the best songwriters of the past 15 years: Matthew Ryan. He's never sold many records, and I doubt he ever will, but he writes songs that matter. Here's a sampling.