Not only does singer-songwriter Ryan Sims incomparably combine country music and rock ‘n’ roll on his sophomore release, My Side Of The Story, but he does it with an impressive instrumental lineup to back him, including former John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff; the Rolling Stones’ bassist, Darryl Jones; Elton John’s keyboardist, Kim Bullard and Lady Antebellum’s guitarist, Jason “Slim” Gambill.
Sims either wrote or co-wrote all seven of the tracks on the November collection, and each number showcases Sims’ detailed storytelling, which unquestionably incorporates a strong dose of rock.
With a relatively fast tempo, “Get Away” kickstarts the album. The opening song reinforces the idea that listeners are not only listening to a country music tune, but also a rock-influenced track. Up next — “American Things,” another fast track. Although it highlights many of Sims’ favorite things, it’s not your traditional love song. What it is, though, is a feel-good, catchy song that could easily become a summer anthem.
The third track is entitled “Black And Blue,” and it introduces something new to the collection: a slow pace. “These bruises are just faded memories that I don’t want / you left me black and blue,” Sims sings in the honest and humbled track.
The remaining four songs follow a pattern of weaving between the storytelling of country music and relying on the rasp of Sims’ vocals, along with the heavy instrumentals that rock music includes.
While “Tragedy” definitely belongs more to the rock side of things, the soft guitar-strumming and light keys that go afloat in “Red Head” remind listeners that they are, indeed, listing to a country album. The ballad focuses its whole three minutes and 43 seconds on “this red-headed girl that I’ve come to adore.”
Immediately following, “Before I Sell Myself” returns to the rock genre with an upbeat tempo and the backup of electric guitar. “I can’t keep lying to myself / I can’t afford the tales I sell / I’m going broke, it’s like i’m down to my last hope / and that’s not enough to spend on someone else,” Sims’ raspy vocals bellow.
The final track, “Little Ms. Bad Decision,” leaves listeners with a catchy beat that speaks to anyone who “had to learn the hard way.” The spunk that Sims delivers on his sophomore collection intrigues listeners and causes them wonder, what’s next?