Ryan Montbleau Shoots "For Higher" With New Album
By: Ben Runnels, June 11, 2012
RYAN LAUREY - Lawrence-based musician Ryan Montbleau gets under the Nola influence on his latest album, "For Higher," recorded with kingpins of the New Orleans music scene Ivan Neville and George Porter Jr.
If anyone deserves serious props for a relentless touring and recording schedule, it's Ryan Montbleau. Clocking in at around two hundred shows a year, the Lawrence-based singer-songwriter has the right to say he's busy.
And yet, Montbleau has embarked upon an entirely new challenge with his latest studio album, For Higher.
He could have easily walked into the studio with his band to record tried-and-true songs, seasoned from playing them night after night.
Instead, Montbleau checked into the musically rich atmosphere of New Orleans and dove into recording sessions with a new band to create an album that drifts comfortably into new terrain, but retains Montbleau's trademark sunny bounce.
Continuing the Nola tradition
Surrounded by an all-star cast of New Orleans musicians brought together by Galactic producer Ben Ellman, Montbleau keeps up easily, proving his versatility as both a vocalist and an artist who knows how to express himself in new environments.
Hear it live...
Ryan Montbleau makes two on-Cape appearances this summer with the Ryan Montbleau Band, live at the Wellfleet Beachcomber on Friday, June 15 at 9 PM. Tix $20/ 21+
They'll also be playing their customary headlining set at the 5th annual Naukabout Music Festival on August 11. Tix $29 in advance/ all ages.
Joining Montbleau on the album is Ivan Neville, who has recorded and toured with The Neville Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and Don Henley. Also making an appearance is George Porter Jr., best known as the bassist with The Meters, but with a resume that includes recording with artists such as Dr. John, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Jimmy Buffet.
Nashville-based Anders Osbourne and New Orleans drummer Simon Lott seamlessly round out the album.
While the New Orleans boys were in their comfort zone in the studio, it’s obvious that the city’s stellar musical tradition rubbed off on Montbleau. Somehow, he sounds like he belongs there.
True blue Montbleau
With peppy originals and four deep-cut covers from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers, For Higher exudes an alchemy of R&B, soul and funk sounds that fuel Montbleau’s repertoire.
The opening track, "Yeah Man," is a nod to classic New Orleans groove, with funky guitar riffs and Neville's luscious rays from the B-3 organ.
Montbleau's introspective and often optimistic lyrics still find a place on the album, revealing curious observations of humanity and the individual. "Here But I'm Gone," a pensive slow jam, reflects on past choices and uncertainties about dealing with regret.
The musical consistency of Montbleau's world also continues on For Higher, with plenty of solos to groove with and time to reflect on the lyrics.
So lets recap: a New Orleans studio, excellent musicians—two of whom have been laying down the grooviest, grittiest funk for decades on some of the best records ever recorded—four soul nuggets, and Ryan Montbleau's charming songwriting, versatile voice and melodic optimism. Combinations worthy of placement in New Orleans’ prolific and shining musical history.
The album is smooth, so get a copy.