Ryan Hamilton and the Harlequin Ghosts – Nowhere To Go But Everywhere: Album Review

Second album from Ryan Hamilton, the Texan Tom Petty, gives a lesson in optimism.

Release Date:  18th September 2020

Label: Wicked Cool Records

Formats: CD / MP3

Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is the second album from Texan Ryan Hamilton and follows hot on the heels of 2019’s award-winning This is the Sound.  It’s an enjoyable album, full of pleasant, instantly likeable, generally light and airy songs.  Kerouac afficionados will recognize the title as a quote from the seminal road novel On the Road and, indeed, the songs were all written during a long road trip across the American heartlands from Ryan’s home in Texas to Los Angeles that Ryan undertook in the wake of a divorce.

The album opens with Only A Dream, a light, poppy number with some spacy, swirling keyboard work that nicely supplements the solid guitar/bass/drum backing. It’s a song that very clearly lays down the foundations for the rest of the album.  The ghost of Tom Petty pervades this album and that ghost is strongly identifiable from the outset, both in the structure and delivery of the songs and in Ryan’s own vocal style, as much so in this opening track as anywhere else on the album.

On Oh No, Ryan is joined by Kay Hanley (formerly of Letters To Cleo) to deliver a wordy, chugging rocker with an exquisite harmony vocal.  Oh No is one of the three tracks that have already been issued as singles to preview the album and it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable songs in the collection.  The next track, Jesus and John Lennon was the first of the single cuts and features an interesting lyric that namechecks Marilyn Monroe, Joe Di Maggio, Brian Jones, Martin Luther and Linda Lovelace (!) 

Out Of My League and Let’s Go Slow are both poppy foot-tappers of the type that typify the album before we get a slight change of direction  with the anthemic Can I Get An Amen and its repetitive yet compulsive chorus.  The vocal on Can I Get An Amen is perhaps the most obviously Petty-influenced. Half sung, half spoken and delivered with great conviction.  Don’t Fall Apart is a softer, gentler song that builds nicely to its (once more) anthemic coda.  It’s a strong song that was possibly written as a potential set-closer.

Newcastle Charm, the current single, has one of those unique lyrics that pop up from time to time. It’s a song about a Geordie girl, possibly the first ever lyric written and sung by a Texan on that particular subject!  It’s enjoyable and fun and deserves some recognition.  The pace is slowed for Southern Accents, another of the album’s stronger songs, with some haunting pedal steel touches and lyrics that pay tribute to the Texan accent and lifestyle.

We keep the pedal steel for We Gave It Hell, the album’s most overtly country track.  It’s a song of parting but, in common with several other of the album’s tracks, it offers a note of optimism with the message that each of the parted couple can start again and grow stronger.  Closing track, Pick Yourself Up, continues with the theme of optimism in adversity.  It’s a tasteful piano ballad with lyrics that encourage us all to put setbacks behind us and to look to the future. We can all use advice like that from time to time!

Nowhere To Go But Everywhere was recorded both at Ryan Hamilton’s home studio in Texas and at Dave Draper’s Tower Studio in Pershore, Worcestershire.  Dave Draper looked after production matters and he’s achieved a well-balanced, light sound that is perfectly appropriate to Ryan’s songs.  As on This Is The Sound, Ryan is backed by The Harlequin Ghosts, aka Mickey Richard on drums and Rob Lane on bass.  There’s obviously a wealth of additional support that Dave Draper has drafted in to fill out the sound, and it works well.

This album is great fun and should appeal to fans of Tom Petty, R.E.M. and even Bruce Springsteen.

Watch the official video for Jesus and John Lennon from the album here:

Ryan Hamilton online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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