Night Comes Falling
There’s a joke in The Lone Star State that goes something like, “Come to Texas a scholar; leave a musician.” Mike Ryan is a San Antonio native, but it was during his studies at the University of North Texas that he was exposed to a thriving musical community. His 2012 debut album, Night Comes Falling, balances country with rock, with the scales tipping toward the latter. “The Cold One” opens with Ryan’s throaty tenor crooning over a rootsy arsenal of Hammond organ, twangy Telecaster picking, and front-porch fiddle-playing over a solid meat-and-potatoes rhythm section. “57 Songs” follows with hints of that old-school Red Dirt twang mixed in before “Dance with an Angel” spotlights the young tunesmith’s penchant for penning a moving country ballad. With a harder roadhouse-friendly boogie and gritty Americana tones on par with those of John Mellencamp, the sultry “Baby Blue Jeans” plays like it was written for Gretchen Wilson. Ryan sounds most at home when he’s toeing the line between ballads and rock songs. The midtempo “Should I” saunters with style.