“A Big Life” is a big rock album that packs a punch of energy and excitement right from the get-go. Ed Ryan has created a collection of 12 new songs that are bound to keep you hooked from start to finish. But don’t be fooled by the happy-sounding music – the lyrics are anything but. Ryan’s ability to contrast upbeat melodies with deep, thoughtful lyrics makes for an inspiring whole that is both delicious and honest. The guitar solos in this album are particularly noteworthy, adding an extra layer of excitement to an already impressive collection of songs.
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Did you know from the start that you wanted to make a ‘big, fun record’ or did it come about during recording?
My original intent was to make something that included my more roots-oriented material…using Tom Petty as a sort of template soundwise. To that end, I performed and recorded drums instead of programming them and I added quite a bit of keyboards. As recording progressed, I noticed I was really leaning into the uptempo, rockier songs. A roundabout way of saying it became what it is during recording.
Take Way Everything is now my favorite song. I find the text compelling. In general, the lyrics on A Big Life seem not so ‘big and fun’ to me?
Ha…Very observant! Outside of a few songs, like Settle Down, I tend to see and express things in a more complicated fashion. So happy sounding music doesn’t necessarily mean happy lyrical content. Hopefully, as you get older you learn a few things about yourself and share some of that experience.
I think I can hear how much you enjoy making the guitar solos. Also now again. Do you have a whole collection of solos ready or do they arise while writing the songs?
I love guitar solos (big surprise) and I’m really not a fan of what I call placeholder solos…ie just playing the melody or thoughtlessly whiddling around to kill time! Once I’ve recorded my tracks I improvise and record a few solos to see where they take me. I base everything on the emotion I’m trying to get across while keeping in mind the melody and chord structure. It’s another opportunity to express yourself musically and should be it’s own thing while also not being separate from the whole.
The album has been out for a few weeks now and you may have already been able to take some distance. If so, can you already indicate what this album means to you?
I think sonically it’s my best sounding album and I also think the material is pretty consistently strong. The album means another step forward for me in terms of hearing what’s in my head!
A Big Life gets great reviews. Reading all the praise, what stands out to you the most?
What stands out the to me the most is that I’m not shouting into the void lol! This is my fifth solo album and I was wondering if anyone would bother to review it. I think it’s my best work thus far…so it’s gratifying to have such an overwhelmingly positive response. I’m a grateful guy and this encourages me to keep going!