First Jesse Malin’s solo debut, now Concussion?if anything, this is an even finer record than The Fine Art Of Self Destruction. Steve Earle described Ryan as “one of the best songwriters I’ve seen come to Nashville”, and he’s no bullshitter. It’s mostly sparse stuff, just acoustic guitar and maybe a single cello, though “Devastation”, a duet with Lucinda Williams, and a pained cover of The Clash’s “Somebody Got Murdered” do raise the tempo.
Throughout, Ryan croaks these perfect phrases?”Life alone will humble you” (“Rabbit”), “With you by my side I’m nearly satisfied” (“Chickering Angel”)?as he tells his tales of the disenchanted and emotionally disembowelled. Quite brilliant.