When I first heard Ryan Beaver’s lead single “Dark” I had one thought: Thank fuck. This was a country song I could get behind with no holds barred, and one that managed to blast right through the bro-and-pop country vs real-authentic-outlaw country binary that people still seem set on enacting. “Dark” did something else though, it reminded me that what I initially loved about country music has always been the resilience, that tried and true stubborn streak, a refusal to back down over whatever it is that stakes a claim in your heart. The song is dark like volcanic rock is–sharp, ebony and shiny. I still maintain it’s the best country song I heard last year, and might well be this year too unless Miranda does put an album out. (Word to Charles Kelley’s duet with her, “I Wish You Were Here,” though).
Beaver’s latest, “Rum And Roses” hits a similar sweet spot, but one that’s golden, viscous, and romantic with a twist. It reminds me of Brothers Osborne’s devotion to America’s small town soul, and rides a blues and grunge groove straight into makeup sex territory. Beaver’s opting to self-release this record, RX, so we’ll see how he does without the Nashville machine running behind him, but these songs are worth listening to even if you’re the only one. Hell, maybe I am. Even I missed his second single, “If I Had A Horse,” because let’s be real, that NPR player is a pain to get working some days. That one is more of a lullaby than either of these swaggering anthems, but equally pleasing–proves that RX will probably be a well-rounded album. Back to “Rum and Roses” real quick, this guy can write a hook, the chorus is catchy as anything Luke Bryan’s been doing lately–though unlike most Bryan songs, it has its own rhythm–and even better, it trails off into the same wavering jet fuel roar that kicked it off. Here’s some medicine–it’s ok if you didn’t know you were sick.
Rx is out 5/6 on St. Beaver Music. Pre-order it here.