Ryan Hamilton Refocuses on Americana Rocker ‘1221’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Texas-based Americana/classic rock hybrid Ryan Hamilton took full advantage of his forced year of pandemic isolation. While folks were trying to make bread for the first time or binge watch every conceivable show on Netflix, Hamilton decamped to his home studio with the goal of releasing a new track once a month, dubbing the project 1221.  

But key to this project was collaboration –   a tricky concept when everyone was locked down. Hamilton reached out to fellow musicians like Bob Schneider and Chuck Prophet for help and while he was recording his music in his home studio in the Lone Star State, producer Dave Draper was fine tuning the songs from the U.K. The result is a decent collection of originals and covers that is a little uneven at times, but ultimately a solid addition to Hamilton’s growing catalogue.

Included amongst the originals are stellar covers of Catherine Wheel’s “Satellite,” a so-so take on The Refreshments’ biggest hit “Banditos,” and a surprising take on The Spin Doctors’ “How Could You With Him,” which sounds much better than the original. On “Big Man,” Hamilton takes on the Prophet-penned song, making for one of the best moments on the record (surprisingly Prophet has never recorded this song himself). Elsewhere the song “Babies,” written by Schneider, comes off a bit too earnest even if the sentiment is relatable. The album closes on the emotional piano ballad “Ready To Love Again,” which is appropriately sad given the circumstances of where the world was when the song was recorded, but there is a cautious optimism to the lyrics that properly anchors not only the song, but this entire record.   

Before the pandemic, Hamilton and his band were booked to play several big UK festivals during the summer of 2020, but he managed to salvage the lost time and refocus on 1221.And while he hasn’t completely gassed up the tour buses yet, he does plan on hosting his third annual Holiday Hoedown on December 9th, live from the Historic Church in Stephenville, Texas, streaming the show worldwide.

Photo credit: J Moreau

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