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The Ryan Express' 'Underground': A Raw Fusion of Angst and Vulnerability

Ryan Hubener's musical journey kicked off with a deep dive into rhythm, learning drums at age 14. Self-taught without any formal training, Ryan prioritized sound, emotion, and artistic creation over music theory. In 2004, he founded the grunge-inspired band Wave on the Barrage, producing the album The Age of Ventriloquism. Following this chapter, The Ryan Express emerged in 2006 as an acoustic singer-songwriter project. Concurrently, Ryan delved into sound engineering, leading to the establishment of Fountainworks Recordings in Kansas City, MO. Operating the studio, he created the first solo acoustic album, Please Be Seated, released in 2008. Over the next decade, his songwriting evolved, culminating in the self-produced full-band production of the second studio album, Let’s Not and Say We Did. In January 2021, the unexpected loss of a close friend fueled a burst of creativity, giving rise to the entirely self-produced album Underground, released in December 2023. This album serves as a reflection on the emotions and internal turmoil experienced during this poignant time in Ryan Hubener's musical journey.


The Ryan Express Photo Credit: Chad Cogdill Photography

Photo Credit: Chad Cogdill Photography


The Ryan Express' latest album Underground embarks on a raw and introspective journey, skillfully weaving grungey guitars, gritty vocals, and angsty energy with vulnerability and agony. The opening track, "This is Life," sets a bleak tone, portraying life's challenges with lines like "Patience pains you/Pleased to explain you/There are no answers/But this is life," while evoking the struggle of dealing with death through haunting imagery such as "Tombstones, broken bones/We’re the carriers, we’re the barriers."


Moving to the second track, "Electric Crossover," the album takes a softer turn with a gentle opening and a plucking guitar melody. It explores vulnerability and the weight of personal sadness, as reflected in lines like "I’ve been carrying bricks/That I will not put down...Into oblivion/There is no rising sun." The song dynamically builds up, showcasing Ryan Hubener's vocal range.


The Ryan Express 'Underground' Album Art

"Dents and Dings," introduces simple rhymes and a groovy lead line that seamlessly blends with the lyrics. In "Order in the Chaos," Hubener delves into the chaos within his mind, yearning for order with lyrical lines like "Sort out the rocks filling my head/All done before I turn to stone."

"Life's not a Fairy Tale," reveals the pain of aging and loss, accompanied by gentle acoustic strumming reminiscent of Nirvana's sound and vocal delivery.


"The Abyss," with its big Radiohead "Creep" vibes, rocks hard and builds up with tight drum hits. Each track on the album adds a layer to the overall narrative. "The Sun Didn't Rise Today" explores palpable feelings of death, alternating between heavy sections and eerie vocal lines without instrumentation, with subtle nods to The Doors' "The End."

 

"I certainly suffered after the loss of my girlfriend, Emma Ray. I tried to think of the good times we shared, such as in the song Dents and Dings, which is actually in reference to an inside joke we shared about a local body shop. In other songs, such as The Abyss there is both a sense of hopelessness and hopefulness as I was trying to learn to swim again, so to speak. Underground is a concept album simply about life and death. When words fail, music has a way of expressing meaning, which is why I prefer to let the music speak for itself. It is open to interpretation, and it is likely many will draw different meanings from my lyrics. After

all, this is art." - Ryan Hubener

 

The final track, "The Nightmare is Life," serves as a poignant conclusion, contemplating the complexities of life and death. Acknowledging that life itself can be a nightmare.


LONG STORY SHORT: This album doesn't provide easy answers or happy endings. Instead, it focuses on navigating the darkness and captures the uncertainty echoed in lyrics like "When will I see/The tunnel of light." The Ryan Express' Underground is a powerful and evocative exploration of the human experience, showcasing Ryan Hubener's emotive storytelling.


Dani Zanoni Photo Credit: Angelica Pasquali |  DawnPoint Studios

 

Stream Underground below! 


Credits:

Songwriting, Instruments, Vocals: Ryan Hubener

Recording, Mix, Master: Ryan Hubener at Fountainworks Recordings


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