The Austin Chronicle

Record Reviews

Reviewed by Michael Bertin, November 10, 2000, Music

Matthew Ryan

East Autumn Grin (A&M)

Matthew Ryan's second album extends directly from his 1997 debut Mayday. He could probably shuffle a few tracks from one to the other and no one would ever notice. If they did notice, they probably wouldn't think it changed the landscape of either album very much. That's because Ryan has cultivated the tough-guy-being-vulnerable stance almost perfectly. And it worked well for him on Mayday. If it ain't broke, right? Ryan still comes off as sincere, not affectatious, and he's still got that knack for an understated melody. The difference is that last time the things he was getting worked up about seemed a little more urgent, a little more pressing. On East Autumn Grin, Ryan's soft -spoken manic anguish just doesn't look as intriguing hanging out there on his sleeve. There are a couple of tracks that manage to recapture the inspired spirit of Mayday while sounding fresh (most notably "I Hear a Symphony" and "Sadlylove"), but East Autumn Grin is too much like a Xerox copy. If you've got the original, there's not much need for a lesser quality duplicate. (Matthew Ryan opens for Steve Earle at La Zona Rosa Friday, Nov. 10.)


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