The Dan Ryan is a group consisting of Nathan Dixey and friends, many of whom play in RF Shannon. Together, these musicians are part of a revived and bustling Austin music scene, a universe that’s been short on new talent for quite some time—mostly due to rising housing costs and a bustling residential boom near venues that have pushed the city to keep bands quiet after 10 p.m. Taking cues from Austinites past, Dixey pulls from the songwriting styles of musicians like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, taking their country backdrops and replacing them with the cosmos.
The Dan Ryan’s new record, Guidance, is out this Friday on Cosmic Dreamer, and we have an exclusive stream of the entire record for your listening pleasure. The album begins with “Ring Them Bells (Carrion Crow),” which lilts and lopes behind behind Dixey’s emphatic voice. A lot of The Dan Ryan’s music jumps off from the inspiration of natural beauty, Dixey’s unhurried delivery easing the listener into a different world at the pace of a starlit evening stroll. And no track does this better than “Meditation Lake McDonald,” the album’s spiritual center.
“Lake McDonald” is a mesmerizing spiral of a song—with lush guitar picking, Fleet Foxes–esque harmonies, and a perfectly utilized shaker. Says Dixey, “‘Meditation Lake McDonald’ was written after a breathtaking—and nearly death-taking—backpacking trip in Glacier National Park. After a rainy hike, I was nearing hypothermia; the only other people who happened to be at our shared campground were three women, who brought an abundance of extra food and tea, saving us from a very serious survival situation. Days later while staying at the Lake McDonald Lodge, my friends Trent and Jon and I watched fog roll over the mountains and out onto the lake. I tried to evoke nature’s ability to be ominously beautiful in this tune.”
The entire album is seeped in awe; awe of the natural world, and of the cosmos and the stars above it. Dixey’s voice is both sharp and in a constant state of wonder. The music swirls around his voice as if it were a warm blanket; Dixey promptly gives thanks. Guidance ends with “Elysian Fields,” a barhouse romp led by a fluttering piano and sharp snare drum slaps. Sings Dixey, “Slow it all down, slow it all down,” Dixey sings. Once the song reaches its ecstatic final act, all is quiet once again. Slow. Just the way Nathan Dixey likes it.
Guidance is out 7/14 via Cosmic Dreamer. You can preorder a clear vinyl copy here.