Sounds Like: High-octane coffee-tonk: introspective, heartland country that works in the honky-tonk and the coffeehouse.

For Fans of: Will Hoge, Dierks Bentley, if Kip Moore did MTV’s Unplugged

Why You Should Pay Attention: When native Texan Ryan Beaver released his soft-twanging, soulful second LP Constant in 2011, country music was on the cusp of a tidal shift —  a “Cruise,” if you will — toward party-vibed bro-rockers that left little room for his soul-searching songs. Now in the wake of Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and other voices of the genre who fuse traditionalism with contemporary craft, there’s plenty of space for Beaver. His single”Dark,” from his upcoming LP Rx, stakes his claim with Springsteen grit, an infectious hook and roaring instrumentals that don’t just part the cloud hanging over his head; they explode it.

He Says: “The whole process of making this record was the first thing I’ve done in three or four years,” Beaver says 0f the genesis of Rx‘s thought-provoking album title. “And it was so much fun, and so therapeutic, that I didn’t realize how good it was for me. These songs serve as a prescription for getting excited about music and life. And if they are like medicine for me, maybe they will be for the listeners.”

Hear for Yourself: Written to make amends with a string of deaths and disappointments, “Dark” turns loss into gain — and packs a powerful, anthemic punch. Marissa R. Moss



Ryan Beaver embodies everything that is right with country music. His songs have both impact and depth; he knows how to create a riveting work that stays with you long after the last chorus fades. His latest single, “Dark” (available today, October 2), is arguably his finest work to date. It is a powerfully poignant track that rolls in like a great approaching storm, but when it hits, it brings a sizzle of thrills and goosebumps, not rain.

“Before I moved to Nashville, I traveled a tremendous amount around the Southwest Plains,” Ryan told The Rowdy in a recent interview. “We were doing about 160 dates a year in an old van with a trailer, just hitting it hard and learning what the road was like. I was traveling about the Midland, Texas area doing some radio. If you’re familiar with the territories, you know it’s just so flat that you can see for miles. I was driving between Midland and Austin and I noticed this storm. I watched it coming across the landscape out there and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if that’s what our problems were like? What if we could see them coming from way out there so you could prepare yourself?’”

And that’s how Ryan got his opening line, “Way out here, you can feel it coming, you don’t need no weatherman.”

“It just came so organically,” he noted. “I usually write songs on my own, but I went to a couple of buddies of mine (Ryan Tyndell and Matt Nolen) and it was just one of those days when the song wrote you, you know? It hit a nerve with me just because of my overall state of where I was, why I do music, and all of that.”

“When you call yourself a musician and you’re creating something, you have a role to play, you’re supposed to be offering something to the people who are going to be listening. Maybe you give them the same feeling that you got when you were growing up and you heard something and it just hit you — maybe it made you tingle — and you connected to it. We owe it to our listeners to try and do that as a songwriter.”

Ryan expressed that some writers put their heart into everything that they do while others have become so caught up in the business aspect that they’ve compartmentalized their craft and they no longer feel anything when they write. “It’s got to be about more than the cash!” he asserted. “When you do this full-time, you can’t help but get burned out — that goes for anything you do all of the time — but you need to take a step back and really try and find that feeling you had when you were 13 and playing in your first garage band!”

“I’ve hit this phase where I’m finally feeling like I know who I am,” he added. “I know what I want to do, I’m not a young cat, I’m at what I like to call level three,” he laughed. “I’m in my 30s and I think that what’s great about that is when you are in your 20s you’re figuring it all out, but once you pass that stage, you start to feel good about what you’re doing and where you are at. You start to understand it all.”

One of the drawbacks that Ryan finds inherent in the storytelling aspect of country music is the fact that it’s typically a very exact and precise thing. “First this happened, then this happened, and then this happened,” he explained. “With rock, it’s a little more up to the listener to determine the story and apply their own self to the song. I think I live somewhere in the middle. I’ve been a fan of both, so when I’m writing a song, I try to add a little bit of each: there needs to be a personal journey for the listener, but the message has to be clear.”

Ryan’s unique approach recently won him over a very important fan. Actually, it might have been the key aspect that secured him a spot opening for one of his dream artists.

“I have been a fan of Ashley Monroe for a really long time,” he enthused. “I have a lot of respect for her because she does not compromise herself. Sure, she wants to do really well, but at the same time, she’s doing what she does and not wavering. I admire that.”

When Ryan started working with a company called Crush Music and it came time to talk about doing shows, he told the company that he would love to open for Ashley. [Monroe is part of Crush Music, as well.] So, they offered him a chance to open for her in Nashville. “She had most of her family there,” Ryan recalled, “I think it was her granddad who came up to me and said, ‘I really like your show, it was really loud and rocking!’ So, I think that was my approval,” he laughed.

“Ashley has this fantastic new record called The Blade, and she’s going on her own headlining tour, so between the Crush Music connection and approval from her family, I’ll be opening for her while she’s on tour through November!”

Ryan Beaver’s latest song, “Dark,” is available today, so pick it up and feel that tingle of excitement again! Then, catch him out on the road with the incredible Ashley Monroe. And, be sure to follow Ryan on social media because his upcoming new record, Rx, will be available shortly, but the exact release date has yet to be determined.

Ryan Beaver’s New Single “Dark” is Fearless, Gripping, and Bold

Ryan Beaver debuted this week his single “Dark,” an energy-packed anthem that’s both intrepid and intimate, deeply personal while unabashedly bold.

“I was going through a really hard period in my life when we wrote this song. Struggling with accepting the sudden loss of both my grandfather and close friend,” says Beaver, who wrote the song with Ryan Tyndell and Matt Nolen. “I remember thinking that the world didn’t make much sense to me. I just walked around feeling like this big storm had moved in and wouldn’t leave. I wasn’t handling it well and lost my faith, lost a relationship but once I turned to music, this song, the healing process began.”

The song begins simply, guitar-lick clouds rolling in with Beaver’s echoey vocal. But it doesn’t turn to an introspective lament, building instead to a vocally gripping and instrumentally heavy chorus, full of grit. The instrumentation is a storm in itself, a howling wind of steels and solos as electric chords crash in precision amongst cymbal sheets of rain. If “Dark” came from an emotional storm, then the song indeed shows Beaver’s motion through it, though he’s not taking refuge in the basement as it howls overhead; “Dark” finds Beaver planted firmly in the ground, singing through any strength of wind. Perhaps it’s a moment of catharsis for Beaver, but for listeners it’s a bit of a lightning rod, inviting the worst his way so that they too can take harbor in his ability to channel that pain successfully and come out alright. “Dark” isn’t a soundtrack to grief, it’s a war-cry to healing, masterfully conveyed in four minutes of tight instrumentals and robust vocals.

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When people ask me why I love country music, I usually come back to one quality: resilience. When you strip away the sonic elements, the reason I return to this genre again and again is because of a steely, quiet resolve, a self-reliance that won’t be shaken come hell or high water. That resilience feels wedded to the American spirit — a callback to the grit and determination that built the best parts of our nation. That’s the spirit of resolve that courses through Ryan Beaver’s rich baritone on “Dark,” the lead single off his new album Rx. I can say without a hint of doubt that this is the strongest country song I’ve heard this year.

While the rest of the country is still parsing through the etymology of bro-country and whether or not Sam Hunt is destroying or preserving the genre, Beaver was holed up writing heart-lurching, defiant story-songs like “Dark.” It builds slowly, with a hint of the avalanche to come, lamenting the storms of fear and doubt that rage around us before bursting into an enormous chorus about facing down your demons with guns blazing. Beaver deploys opposites here with the precision of a master songwriter; the subject matter ostensibly deals with darkness while the bright, raging chorus is as full of light as music can possibly be. And if the chorus sounds like it burst forth spontaneously, it practically did. Beaver says below that they ended up keeping his first-ever vocal take of the track because nothing else captured the essence.

There’s an element of Springsteen here — in the impassioned delivery, in the heartland imagery — but Beaver isn’t a secondhand artist by any means. For one, his Texan accent is unmissable even on the most aching moments of the chorus. For another, even when this song leans toward rock it is still decidedly country. Weeping steel guitars give way to hints of banjo, and there’s bluegrass and zydeco creeping into that soaring rock chorus. But at the heart of it, it’s the song’s resilience that slots it neatly into that genre. This is country music: backbone of rebellion, spirit fueled by hope. Listen.

Beaver provided some context as to what the song means to him:

“Dark” is the anchor for my new record Rx. It’s the song that made me say ok, it’s time to make a new record. I wrote it on a cold fall morning with a few friends of mine — Ryan Tyndell & Matt Nolen. I was going through a really hard period in my life when we wrote this song. Struggling with accepting the sudden loss of both my grandfather and close friend. I remember thinking that the world didn’t make much sense to me. I just walked around feeling like this big storm had moved in and wouldn’t leave. I wasn’t handling it well and lost my faith, lost a relationship but once I turned to music, this song, the healing process began. This record would go on to be my prescription and the music, the medicine. When I sang the vocal on “Dark,” I didn’t know I had it in me until it was done. We ended up keeping our first vocal for the final mix because we all knew it captured the essence of the message. It felt like lightning in a bottle. I love everything about this song — the feel, the honesty it has and how simple and child-like the hook is: “I ain’t afraid of the dark.” I think I needed to hear the words more than anyone and I knew if anyone was feeling like I was, people could relate.