It has always been incredibly difficult to gain attention in country music as an independent artist but thanks to the internet and people’s insatiable appetites to be entertained, the playing field has gotten easier, especially if you have the complete package needed to succeed. And while many artists think they have the complete package, very few actually do. Fortunately for Arizona native Ryan Sims, he does have the complete package. He can entertain live, he can write (and choose) relatable songs, has headliner looks and, most important to me, he has a voice which is instantly identifiable. As he showcases on his EP My Side Of The Story, his voice is as gritty as Joe Cocker, as emotive as Kip Moore and as grounded as John Hiatt. That’s to say that he has natural grit to his voice which is suits the heartland country/rock featured here on a record which features an A-list team of players like legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff and guitarist Jason “Slim” Gambill.
“American Things” feels like a long-lost Mellencamp sing-a-long while waltz “Red Head” recalls the great salt of the earth ballads Cocker was such a pro at delivering. “Tragedy” is the opposite story of “Red Head” and it feels like the best song on My Side Of The Story. It’s a song anyone who has had a passionate relationship fizzle out abruptly. It’s lyrically honest, musically moving and vocally evocative, pretty much the stuff any song needs to be sold.
Most of My Side Of The Story lives within mid-tempo songs which touch on relationships which have come and gone but “Little Ms. Bad Decision” feels like a countrified outtake of an early Matchbox Twenty song. The songwriting shows potential and perhaps with a couple slight production (or mix changes) the song could be the break-out song Ryan Sims, like any brand new artist, needs. As it stands, this EP is a solid collection of songs and it serves a great purpose: to Introduce Ryan Sims to the world and keeps my interest piqued as I fully believe if he gets paired with or writes the right song, he has the ability to be the next big thing in country music.