Music journalism is a business that has a tendency to be feast or famine. One day you might strike a big success that everybody loves, and the next you might find yourself on an empty oasis doing it just for the pleasure of creation.
Thankfully I’ve never lost that sense of enjoyment. Mostly because it’s always been a passion of mine, but also because of how this blog and these writings have connected with people. It used to happen periodically back in my Youtube days, but I’ll tell you this… Youtube is one of the most singlehandedly lonely experience for a creator trying to find an audience.
I’ve had videos get thousands and thousands of views, but not a single comment or interaction from another person. And I always hated that considering how much I always wanted to interact with people who had the same interests that caused me to make what I did in the first place.
But luckily that wasn’t always the case, thanks in part to people like Ryan Hahn. I first became acquainted with Hahn years ago because he was looking for someone to review the band he was playing drums in at the time called The Difference Engine. That eventually parlayed itself into an email interview with the band, which was big for me at the time considering it was only the second time I’d ever done such a collaboration.
That was a major benchmark moment as you might imagine, and thankfully I’ve been in touch with Hahn in the years since on a variety of projects (including another still to come on this blog). But my favorite in the early going has to be the first batch of songs he recently sent me under the new moniker “Andrew Ryan & The Travelers”.
It’s essentially a solo project despite the band name (Hahn recorded/sang most everything himself with help from ex-Difference Engine guitarist Nick Vanderveldt and vocalist Marie Marotti). And instead of working in the background as a multi-instrumentalist/producer/songwriter, this effort rebrands Hahn not only in name but as an assertive frontman as well.
This first trio of songs (“Out Of My Head”, “Town & Country”, “Disingenuous”) are confident in their direction and very well-nuanced in both instrumentation as well as songwriting. These are tracks that are just mellow enough to suit Hahn’s well-weathered vocals, yet still bleed their influences all the way from Americana to Alabama Shakes-style moody blues rock.
Listen here: http://www.soundcloud.com/andrewryan-thetravelers
“Out Of My Head” is a slow burning emotional thunder strike following the death of a close friend, “Town & Country” embodies a yearning hometown restlessness amidst sinewy slinking drum lines, while “Disingenuous” is a hook-happy piece of sprightly folk with a darker depth than it initially lets on. These are songs that are very certain in their direction, and show a stylistic range that’s indicative of Hahn’s great skill as both a producer and musician.
I’m always extremely proud of any person that isn’t afraid to make their voice heard. Just being unafraid to sing is impressive enough (no matter how good or bad you sound). But to exist in the background and gradually build yourself up to the point you’re ready to write and shape and create your own music and put yourself in the spotlight is worthy of great praise.
That takes a lot of surety in yourself as well as vision and confidence in what you’re trying to achieve. And I hope for Hahn’s sake he doesn’t let off the throttle in acting on those creative instincts.
He and The Travelers certainly have something special waiting in the offing here. It’s efforts like these that will never put a stop to the faith I have in the music world. Just because it’s not on the radio…. doesn’t mean there aren’t enough gems in the rough to make a diamond blush.
Here are three reasons to prove it.