You hear it all the time, typically around the second or third album release: an artist gives an interview and inevitably states how they’ve finally “found their sound.” But despite being remarkably common, it’s also strange when you think about it – someone diminishing the value of their earlier work to prop up their latest.
That’s just one aspect of what’s so refreshing about Danielle Ryan. The velvet-voiced singer and songwriter is set to drop her debut EP, Middle of the Madness, via 604 Records later this year, but she’s far from new to the game; for over a decade, Ryan has been hard at work honing her writing and performance skills behind the curtain. As a result, when she steps into the spotlight with her first release, her sonic foundation will already be cemented.
“I didn’t care about the bragging right of having an EP out if it’s not going to fully represent who I am or what I can do,” Ryan explains. “The plan was always to just keep my head down and keep working until I knew I was ready.”
Evidently, she holds herself to a pretty high standard. Ryan was a prolific writer and performer by her early teens. She naturally gravitated towards the organic country stylings of decades past – she was born and raised on her great grandfather’s dairy farm in rural British Columbia, after all – but with a sharp awareness of the mechanics of modern pop thanks to some of the artists who helped shape her sound.
“I love powerful women who just say what they want to say,” she enthuses, listing the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Loretta Lynn. “It’s about being true to your art and true to yourself.”
Ryan amassed more than her share of industry interest in the ensuing years, earning national media coverage, a Top-6 spot in the 2016 Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Discovery Program, and winning Country Music Television (CMT)’s Chevy From the Tailgate Contest. Everything culminated in Ryan signing a development deal with 604 Records, putting her in some very prestigious company. But even then, calculated and confident, she waited for the optimal time to share her truly stunning debut collection.
Produced by the Midas-touched Brian Howes (Nickelback, Simple Plan), Middle of the Madness showcases Ryan’s captivating charisma and a compositional prowess that belies her years. In fact, she wrote every song on the effort, only taking help with arrangements and production from Howes and a few other trusted collaborators – the longest-standing and most trusted of whom is in fact her brother, Brandon Severinski.
The collection kicks off with her first single, “Weather Man,” pairing catchy melodies and compelling lyricism so skillfully it could’ve easily come out of a veteran Nashville writer’s room. The title track boasts a serene, slow-burning progression that anchors the focus on Ryan’s dulcet vocals and weighty words. Conversely, “Good Times” is a boot-stomping barn-rocker driven by fun, rapid-fire verses and a chorus you’ll be whistling for days.
It’s clear she had countless songs to choose from, and put great care into curating a well-rounded, wholly representative taste of her artistry. “The thing about your first release is that it’s really your whole life put into a single work,” Ryan says, reflecting on its wide breadth of style and substance. “There are songs on here that I wrote when I was 16 or 17, and some from the last year, but they all feel very relevant and still resonate strongly with me.”
Now, Ryan is eager to bring her polish and poise back to the stage to support her first formal release. “I just love to perform,” she enthuses. “That’s why I started down this path in the first place, and I’m excited to finally start doing what I’ve been working towards for so long.”
Clearly, great things can come when you combine a rancher’s work ethic with an artist’s insatiable creative calling. Through just its handful of songs, Middle of the Madness solidifies Danielle Ryan’s impressive sonic foundation – one she’ll be building on for years to come.
Friday, July 16
Stampede Summer Stage
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