Review: Ryan Star – '11:59'

Release Date: August 3rd via Atlantic
Contributed By: Andrew

11:59 Album CoverThe tale of Ryan Star’s latest album is a long and tired one. ’11:59′ seem destined never to see the light of day, as the album once scheduled to hit shelves in June of 2009 was delayed time and time again. “Breathe” hit radio, “This Could Be The Year” found life on WWE television, and “Brand New Day” became the theme song of the Fox series Lie To Me. Despite all that, it took over a year after the original release for Star’s second full length album to come about, but at last it is here. I try to avoid cliches as much as possible, but it was absolutely worth the wait.

Among the show-stealers on this tragically ten track disc, are “Right Now” and “Last Train Home.” The former might scare first time listeners with a bit of a cheerleading vibe, but don’t be scared away by high-pitched women telling you to “go go go go.” It’s all part of the song’s viciously optimistic message, and throwing a cheering section in the background is a strangely winning equation. The entire point of “Right Now” is picking yourself back up and living for the moment, a wonderful thing to hear in a rock scene crowded with dark break-up songs and traumatic experiences. In fact, Ryan Star pretty much strives for hope and romance throughout all of ’11:59,’ especially in “Right Now” and “This Could Be The Year.”

Star can rock a mean slow jam too, as demonstrated by “We Might Fall” and “Losing Your Memory.” Both are re-recordings of his darker, moodier 2005 release ‘Songs from the Eye of An Elephant’ but they fit in well with the entirety of ’11:59.’ Each brings the pace down a bit to add diversity to a very upbeat album, but they also contribute to the album’s theme well. Some of the album’s other winners are “Last Train Home” and “Start a Fire” which are more romance-influenced, but as most male singers seem to shy away from corny romance, it leaves no less of a great breath of fresh air.

Every instrumental on ’11:59′ is great, and every bit of vocal passion that emerges from Star is fantastic. The man sings as though he really feels what he is singing and he has the range to back it up. Despite only ten tracks being present on the album, each is memorable and unique to the rest of the set. The biggest faults the album has are minor. It is awfully short, especially considering how long it took to release, and the album doesn’t really have much of a flow. Each track is so different than the others, it feels more like a mixtape than an album, though a very good mixtape.

In the future, I had rather we not be forced to wait such a long time for Ryan Star to get his music to the world. He’s improved by leaps and bounds since his last release in creating great music that is not only infectious, but actually somewhat meaningful. I don’t tend to ask a lot of the music I listen to in terms of lyrical value, but I’m always pleased to find an artist who writes about the better things in life, as opposed to the played out themes of most rock bands. Toss in a great voice with serious passion, and some wonderful song-writing talent, and ’11:59′ turns out to be one of the best albums of this year, instead of the one it was intended to be released in.

TuneLab Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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