Interview: Ryan Beaver’s New Album Is an ‘Rx’ to Combat the Same Old Thing
Ryan Beaver's new album Rx has been ready for almost a year and a half -- since Jan. 1, 2015, to be exact. The country music industry, though, wasn't ready for it.
"I kind of looked around and went, 'I just made a project that's very different from everything that's going on musically,'" Beaver recalls to The Boot, summing up country's musical landscape at the time as "basically the height of somebody like Florida Georgia Line's career": Brothers Osborne had yet to find radio success, Chris Stapleton was still known primarily as a songwriter, and Sturgill Simpson had yet to sign his major-label deal.
"So I'm sitting here going, 'If I want to take any of this to radio, and this is what's being played and being successful, I'm not going to have much of a shot,'" Beaver continues.
So he waited. Brothers Osborne earned their first No. 1 single. Chris Stapleton ... well, became Chris Stapleton. And Sturgill Simpson signed that major-label deal and earned career-high chart debuts with a new record.
"I really think the success of those guys, who I really respect and have always loved," Beaver muses, "I really think that the success of those guys helped the timing with this project."
Beaver himself cites his influences as everything from country's classic storytellers -- Rx's sixth track is titled "Kristofferson" -- to classic rock and the singer-songwriters of the 1970s.
"To classify it is always tough ...," Beaver admits, "but at the end of the day, I kind of just tell people I write country songs and put 'em with more of a rock 'n' roll attitude."
Although Beaver's new disc has been completed for almost a year and a half, he says that the record still sounds fresh -- and that's thanks in large part to its 12 songs.
"We took our time long enough to really make sure that the songs were there and the performance was there," Beaver notes, "and whenever I listen back to the record, it sounds just as good to me ... and I'm still excited about every one of those songs, and that makes me happy, because that means I picked the right songs ... It still feels relevant."
People are so easy to hate on other people for creating something … It’s a very tough time to be somebody who creates something and puts it out there in the world.
While it's standard practice for Beaver to write all of his own songs, there are two on Rx that, for the first time, he didn't pen himself: "Still Yours" and "Rum & Roses." Both, he says, he quickly fell in love with -- and he was eager to challenge himself to make someone else's words feel like his own.
"As much as I consider myself primarily a singer-songwriter, I really got excited about the idea of trying to shine a light on these songs I love, and the challenge of trying to make them my own ... and make it fit with the record," Beaver muses. After all, he agrees, it takes talent to write and perform your own material -- but it takes a different type of talent to sell a song that you didn't write.
"That's showing a different side of yourself," Beaver continues. "The big part of this record for me internally was to sort of get out of my comfort zone, do some things that I hadn't done before, and that's one of them."
Technically, there's a third song on Rx that Beaver didn't write: A brief snippet of Kris Kristofferson's "Jesus Was a Capricorn" leads into the aforementioned song "Kristofferson." Beaver decided to add that cover in because he was drawn to the line "You can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me."
"People are so easy to hate on other people for creating something ... It's a very tough time to be somebody who creates something and puts it out there in the world," Beaver confesses. "This [album] is my heart and soul ... and if you can't find anybody else to pick on, [go ahead and do it to me]."
Fans may recognize a familiar voice or three on Rx: Beaver's friend Maren Morris sings on "When This World Ends" and "Habit," while Lucie Silvas is on "Fast," and listeners will hear Jessi Alexander on "Kristofferson" (she's also a co-writer on the track). But Beaver recommends that listeners start with "Dark" -- appropriately, the album's opening track and first single.
"It was the first song that was written where I knew, 'This is going to go on the record, this is going to be an anchor piece for the record,'" Beaver says; in fact, he remembers the day the song was written: Nov. 7, 2012, after losing three loved ones in a short period of time and while dealing with the dissolution of a relationship.
"This song hit me and shook me in a way that I was only hoping music would," Beaver continues. "It was a magical songwriting moment, where nobody had to explain anything."
Watch Ryan Beaver's "Dark" Music Video
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