Ryan States: Strange Town

RIYL: The Silver Seas, Ben Folds, The Grays

We’ll say this for Ryan States: his story is a unique one. It’s not every day that a press release includes the words “The Eagles,” “Queen,” “gay music” and “recorded on a circus train” (he’s a touring musician for Ringling Brothers), but that sums up States and his debut, Strange Town, as well as anything. He tells tales of being pressured to “fit in” (ahem, stop being gay) and married men hitting on him, but juxtaposes this modern-day lyrical freedom with a sound from days gone by. (Think Jackson Browne crossed with the Grays.) Guitars jangle and chime (and occasionally shred), the piano hops like a New Orleans beer hall, and he even gives a song a good old fashioned sax solo, while States sings in a baritone not unlike Rufus Wainwright or the Silver Seas’ Daniel Tashian. He doesn’t knock every song out of the park, but the arrangements are solid, and on “I’ll Give You (What You Want),” he resurrects a chord sequence just before the chorus that will stir the soul of any radio listener from the late ’80s, gay or straight. Had States been around back when this kind of music was popular…well, the album probably never would have found a distributor (only dance acts were allowed to be gay back then), but if it had, Strange Town would easily have saved the lives of a couple thousand boys coming to terms with their feelings. We’re guessing States would take that over a gold record any day of the week. (Drooling Class Records 2010)

Ryan States MySpace page
Click to buy Strange Town from Amazon


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