There’s something charmingly confident about a country musician using the shimmering electric organ sound so prevalent in work that preceded Y2K. A sound generally reserved either for a siren call to zeitgeist fans with greenback-lined pockets or a disarming attempt to channel some sexual frustration, Justin Ryan may very well simply be noodling around with it. On Warm Whiskey Nights, Ryan’s latest proves that however polarizing the organ may be, it’s still simply an outlet for some fun music under an antiquated guise.
Black and whites aside, WWN is the easy listening one would come to expect from some contemporary country. It’s romantic notions of a little town, it’s questioning financial institutions, it’s failing to make it with a girl your parents approve of – ultimately it’s the burden of living. Ryan drink of choice of be damned, he’s quite lonesome.
False enthusiasm in modern country seems quid pro quo for touring rights and selling polyester blend t-shirts at $25 a pop, but Ryan comes to it earnest. Transient practitioners of gentrified country are inherent to the scene, but the disconnect doesn’t simply come in listing mid-shelf whiskey in your album title and abusing said whiskey while nodding off to Smog, it’s in the presentation. Ryan seems like a genial guy, and for that his album thrives in several ways.
Warm Whiskey Nights isn’t a barn burner or an ode to worn out headphone jacks committed to Stage Fright, but dialing it back makes for something refreshingly dry and human.