I’m late to yet another party but now that I’m here I’m going to stay until it gets awkward.
This time it’s the Ryan Montbleau party. I’ve known his name for a couple of years for sure but I’m just now getting hip to how great he is.
I was sent an advance stream of his upcoming album “I Was Just Leaving,” but before I dove into it, I was told about the the cover he did with Tall Heights of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and how it has gotten more than 12 million plays on Spotify. Yeah so there’s yet another party I’m late to and one I was a little shy walking into because I’m a big fan of Chapman and that song is pretty sacred. However any concerns I had were quickly erased when I gave it a listen which I suggest you do now and then we’ll get into the beauty of his new album.
Be someone…be someone…be someone…
Right? I almost started crying. For real. Not only is this version glorious and emotional it let me know right away what a terrific voice Montbleau has. It’s a voice that’s full of emotion without being over the top. It’s honest.
I listened to “Fast Car” (also, hello, the Tall Heights harmonies situation…so much yes) three times and then moved into the new record. BTW, Montbleau’s discography dates back to 2002 and includes several studio and live albums.
“I Was Just Leaving’s” title track opens the album in heart-rending fashion. “The sun came up and the sun went down/ Looking for reasons in my head again/ Where are you now, where you’ve always been, far from where I am?/ Did I keep you there or did you run? Was it what I didn’t do or was it what I done?” It continues on that trajectory of marrow-deep heartache. Yet it’s also a gorgeous tune with a sturdy acoustic guitar and a poetic admission of someone trying to hang onto something that’s unravelling like the weather-worn frayed end of a clothesline.
The journey of self-discovery continues with “Bright Side.” “I was looking for a bright side mama ever since about the day I was born/Always headed for a bright light wondering what it might have in store.”
Take a listen to “Bright Side”
I have no idea what “Warning Bell” is about but it makes me want to drive all night on backroads. “But tell me, of the people you’ve known how many passed on were ready? How many heard the shot? How many got a warning bell?” Hmmm. Maybe it’s about regrets.
Tucked at the end of “I Was Just Leaving” is the last song I’ll talk about. It’s called “Cue the Majesty.” “Why pour myself out if it’s all down the drain? Why cry in the mornings? Why laugh in the rain? Why did I let her go? Why can’t I let her go? I need something that won’t go away? Cue the majesty, cue the majesty/Open up the skyline and show me the sea.” You’ll be singing along before you get to the end of the first listen. Also, cue the harmonica. Just the right amount.
ALL of this is to say, “I Was Just Leaving” is a fantastic record that I’m pretty addicted to at the moment and I’m placing my order with the universe now that Montbleau swings through Maine when he hits the road in support of it.
So…do you wanna hear EVERY SINGLE song from it performed live by Ryan via Facebook live? I know I do. Suffice to say, hop on Facebook post haste and *like* his page.
The Facebook LIVE performance is happening on Thursday, Feb. 16. at 9 p.m. (e.s.t.) If you’ve never seen a Facebook live performance, trust me, they’re super cool and a unique way to engage with the artist via real-time commenting. AND…you get to hear all of the new record’s twelve songs two weeks before the record’s released. Cool! So like his page and set a reminder on your phone because although typically a notification will pop up telling you that an arist has started a FB live thing, it’s good to also set an extra reminder because you want to be sure not to miss this.
Ryan, I’m sorry it took me this long to find you. But I’m here now and am an official fan. “I Was Just Leaving” is a hell of a record. And fun fact, we’re both from Massachusetts. #bonus