Matthew Ryan

East Autumn Grin

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His first album drew comparisons from critics to greats like Dylan and Springsteen and near-greats like Paul Westerberg; on the all important follow-up, Matthew Ryan stacks up with the pretty-goods like John Mellencamp and Soul Asylum's Dave Pirner. It's fitting then that Pirner sits in (on trumpet!) on the dark folk "Ballad of a Limping Man." He's not the only name performer who dropped by to beef up the already big music: Johnette Napolitano sings and David & David's David Ricketts does multi-instrumental work. Underneath the Dylan-derived delivery and state-of-the-art studio embellishments lives a songwriter and his simple songs trying to get out.

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