Independent singer-songwriter, RYAN HORNE, brings his insatiable creative thirst to the table with his latest release, The Whistler and the Majestic. Six albums into his 10-year career, Horne has arrived at a clear musical vision, and it is grand: “I want a really emotional, big, and beautiful record with a lot of character,” he wrote, as he conceived of an album laced with strings and other “tasty” instruments like bells, banjo and organs that interplay with vocal harmonies, delicate reverb and thumping percussion. Expertly, he has integrated his library of musical influences, from Patty Griffin to Tom Waits to Wilco. Paying close attention to every aspect of his craft, from lyrics and melody, to vocals and musicianship, Horne has delivered his most focused and polished album to date.
Helping to execute this vision was Grammy Award winner Mitch Dane, who previously produced Horne’s Love and War in 2007. Like yin and yang, the pair achieves balance between restraint and excess, between more and less. Take the elegance of the album’s opening track, “Come on! Come on!” Bold in its sparsity, the song’s spaces are left deliberately, tantalizingly untouched. “That was all Mitch,” Horne explains. “Me, I want to take a thousand different instruments and chuck them all on. But Mitch is very reserved, which is good because if I didn’t have him there would probably be way too much going on.” Conversely, Horne fought to include the convict’s lament, “Terrible Tommy,” whose reckless, wacko blues infuse the album with some well-placed intemperance. Horne and Dane’s collaboration results in a sonic texture as unusual as it is captivating.
The Whistler and the Majestic is, in short, what’s right with Nashville. After spending a month in Music City to record at Sputnik Studios, Horne moved from his native Atlanta into the artistic community of East Nashville. “There’s so much talent up here,” he says, “I can co-write with a different person every day of the year if I want to. And it’s great to be surrounded by such supportive artists.” Allowing Nashville’s deep talent pool and incredible standard of professionalism to push him, without defining him, Horne feeds furiously off the creative energy around him. “I’m already trying to envision my next album,” he says, “which is bad because I’ve got to put out this one first. That’s my problem, I get so excited, I love diving into a new record, and as soon as I get one done, I want to do another one!” With such passion and intensity moving him forward, maybe that’s not such a problem. “I want a long, long career,” he adds, “And I want to put out better and better records every time.”