Album Review: Mike Ryan - “Longcut’”

A star in the Texas Music scene, Mike Ryan has returned with this album, his first collection of new tunes to be released in five years.

One of the best artists working on the Texas Music scene, Mike Ryan has consistently been releasing music since 2012 and Longcut is his fourth full-length album release to date. In that time he’s released nine #1 hits on the Texas Music radio charts and this one features 13 more opportunities to add to that tally as Longcut is well-positioned to provide hit after hit.

“Die Runnin’,” the single at the album’s release, finds the talented vocalist showcasing just how much he has grown as an artist with a sonic palette which is elevated and edgier than previous productions but lies somewhere between the amped up country rock of Jason Aldean and the traditionalist country of Jon Pardi. It makes sense on the latter front as this record was produced by Bart Butler and Ryan Gore, Pardi’s producing partners since the launch of his career. “Get Away With Anything” features lyrics about a man who is as lovestruck as the man in “Die Runnin’” whereas “Jacket On” has a classic feel to it as he sings of a woman whose “ways” and honesty would keep her away from him but somehow, she make a late night call to him as hell must have froze over. Co-written by Brent Anderson and Brandy Clark, this is one of the best tracks on an album full of great moments.

If there was a song that could be a mainstream country radio single on this record, it would probably be “Loser” a song with big guitars, looped production and a passionate vocal about a man who has lost the love of his life with the refrain, “You don’t know how it feels to be a loser until you lose her.” There’s a 2000’s era country feel to the track accompanying the lyrics of “Way It Goes” but don’t mistake it for sounding like an old song, it isn’t. Instead it’s another song about the end of a relationship with mundane details proving that you never know when stuff’s gonna happen, even if it’s in the middle of a Saturday with “Born To Run” on the radio. “Can Down” was released in 2021 prior to the album’s release and it was a Top 5 hit on the Texas Music charts and it’s easy to see why. A mid-tempo, groove-filled ballad, it recalls some of the best of Eli Young Band’s hits as it talks about a man whose response to the end of a relationship is “killing these cans cause I’ll be damn if she’s gonna get my Saturday Night.”

Clever lyrics inform the steel guitar laced “Off My Thinker,” the kind of country song which is steeped in the tradition of Shel Silverstein and Roger Miller. Written by Brandon Kinney, Josh Thompson and Ben Hayslip (all writers with massive hits on their ledgers), the song finds a man re-evaluating the way his mind thinks over a groove-filled melody. Speaking of grooves, “Gonna Take A Woman” shows off some seriously soulful grooves as he rips into a lyric about a man who knows he needs a woman’s love and touch to bring him back to life. There’s a throwback feel to “Like I Don’t,” a song that would’ve fit on many a Clay Walker or Neal McCoy records from back in the day and like others mentioned above, this song doesn’t feel old but rather, a classic feeling country song. The opening title track playfully twists the "short cut" theme on it's head and showcases how things might be better if they take the long way around.

Mike Ryan is a talented artist with thirteen strong tracks on his latest Longcut. Each song works as its own moment to showcase his diverse talent as both a singer and a songwriter (he co-wrote 5 of these 13 songs) as he brings a sound that fits well within both Texas and mainstream Country Music’s sounds while also expanding upon his own sound. This is a record any country fan should find to their liking.