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Ryan States
Strange Town
Drooling Class Records

From Roman ruins to decrepit garages, artists of various stripes have found inspiration in some of the unlikeliest of places. But a train? That’s where the muse came to Ryan States. During a years-long tour with the Ringling Brothers Circus Band, States has logged many hours performing for hundreds. But you won’t find a trace of polka on Strange Town. The mixture of earnest piano, jazzy guitar and insightful lyrics is as far from the circus as one can get. The result is an album that is as rich and honest as the train tracks States has traveled.

Take for example, the opener “I Will Find My Way”, a mixture of piano and State’s clarion voice that evokes Julian Lennon more than Ben Folds. If that doesn’t grab your attention, “I’ll Give You (What you Want)”, a song about a married man seeking company outside his marriage (and not the way you expect), features soaring lyrics and an impressive shredding session on par with some of the great guitar solos of the 1980s. In fact, some of the best parts of Strange Town are the studio musicians, many of them States found on the Web. Proof that the Internet rocks. On the flip side, there are tracks such as “Never Forget” an ode to the 9-11 victims, which comes off as maudlin, and the campy “I am A Comet.”

Overall, if you’re looking for a throwback to good ol’ fashioned 80s easy listening, at $11, Strange Town is worth the splurge

-Jack Winn