Bad Reputation
Rock & Soul Records

The star of Mike Ryan’s new album, Bad Reputation, isn’t any one of its terrific songs, but rather the maturity of the entire collection. Ryan, who has a publishing deal with Nashville’s Sea Gayle Music, co-wrote every track with fellow pro tunesmiths in Music City, but don’t let that scare you off. The collaborative results, chock-full of clever lyrical gymnastics and featuring a more rock-forward, polished style than his solid 2012 record, Night Comes Falling, are terrific. In the R&B-inflected “Easy” and “Putting Off Telling Me Goodbye,” Ryan casually but confidently details life behind bedroom doors. Likewise, in the smoky, riff-heavy title track, he begins by singing, “Another night in another bed, nothing new to me,” in a relatable manner that stops short of frat-boy braggadocio, because like every song on here, it’s done with a true writer’s craftsmanship. On “Dancing All Around It” and “Wasting No More Whiskey,” the two best songs on the album, Ryan takes standard wording and pumps the phrases with color as each song’s chorus unveils pain and perspective. From start to finish, Bad Reputation is a record that deserves to put this Texan on the map in a very good way. — KELLY DEARMORE

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