Ryan Curtis has been making music for a long time. He started in punk rock bands in high school, but grew up listening to country and bluegrass and that’s the kind of songs he usually writes. His debut album “Rust Belt Broken Heart” encapsulates the Americana sound and is a fresh blend of Indy and Country.
“This album started years ago,” said Curtis. “Some of the songs on it are over 10 years old. I was gonna do an EP but I went up to Oregon to record and found that thematically many of them were the same. I had a bunch of unreleased material and I just started putting it together.”
His album released on Friday, July 30 on American Standard Times Records and will be available to stream and on vinyl. There was also a free to attend release party with The ChuckWagons at 9 p.m. that evening at Pengilly Saloon.
Curtis is no stranger to making music. Originally from Michigan, the singer made his way to Idaho and has been writing songs all along the way. He’s also co-fronted Curtis Sutton & The Scavengers and leads The Weary Times, a local soul band. People can find the album and get more information on upcoming shows and music at ryancurtismusic.us.
“Rust Belt Broken Heart” may have taken 10 years to put together but the result is an emotional and raw sounding album. Curtis has a voice that evokes a visceral feeling in the listener but his lyrics also share the stage; most songs on the album tell a story. That’s how he decided to put the album together.
“I picked the songs for this record because of a common thread sewn into each of them,” he said on his website. “The story, characters, or origins all center around both the beautiful and downtrodden landscapes of the Great Lakes region. This is where I grew up, and lived, before moving out west nine years ago. Like my actual years on this earth, the setting for each of the songs are split between a small town and the city, but at their core is the overall connection back home to the Midwest, a place surely embedded into my DNA.”
He said his writing has always naturally gone in the direction of country after he started listening to the classics again. He lived in Chicago for a while after college and started writing more and just never stopped. Curtis said sometimes what he writes is personal but more often than not, it’s more about writing a narrative of a character and putting himself in their shoes. “Some are autobiographical but it’s always different when I put them together. Sometimes I even go back to half-baked ideas and work on those until there’s a spark.”
Reviews are positive. The Country Note said: “Before the first track is over Curtis and company are peeling the paint off everything precious with pedal steel riffs and Curtis’ voice, a rough implement that cuts a swathe like a combine harvester and demands your attention.”
Americana Highways said: “Songs are edgy & storytelling sharp. The musicians are excellent. The songs have an attractive country lift. Waylon & Merle would’ve listened to this, hell, Jim Reeves & Boxcar Willie would’ve listened to it, too.”
Curtis is also performing at a bunch of upcoming shows and festivals including Treefort Music Fest, Sawtooth Valley Gathering and Summer’s End Fest. Full schedule at his website.