The best and foremost example of the country/south’s influence on alternative music can be found in Sister Hazel. There are also a lot of other examples including The Old 97s and Ingram Hill. Now, we have Ryan Sims and his newt EP, My Side of the Story which reminds me a lot of a Sister Hazel record. It’s melodic, filled with cool song writing, lots of different instrumentation – including overdriven guitars and mandolin - and a very charismatic vocal by Sims.
My Side of the Story is a seven song EP from Sims that’s a solid introduction to the Arizona native. There’s a lot of good on this record. The middling song “Get Away” opens up the set on a strong note and immediately provides a solid introduction to Sims’ strong vocal. “American Things” features some very Will Hoge-like guitar and instrumentation, but the verse and the chorus just aren’t good. It’s the lone trouble spot on the EP. “Black and Blue” is an extremely well-written and well-produced ballad that could be a hit across multiple radio formats. “Red Head” might not have the hook that “Black and Blue” does but it’s an emotional song that will find an audience to resonate with. The same thing can be said for “Tragedy.” “Little Ms. Bad Decision” is like the country version of a Saving Abel song that definitely has its moments. The best song on the record though is “Before I Sell Myself” – the guitar work and production across the song work with the vocal from Sims perfectly. The music sounds a lot like a Sister Hazel song and for fans of southern rock, it’s a song they’ll be able to latch on to and listen to repeatedly.
Ryan Sims has some impressive credits, he was a contestant on The X Factor and he’s won some independent music awards. He’s also got an impressive backing of talent on this record including Jim Gambel, the guitarist of Lady Antebellum, Elton John’s keyboardist Kim Bullard, Rolling Stones bassist Darryl Jones, and known session drummer Kenny Aronoff. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean much if the music doesn’t back the rep. This record certainly does. There’s some stuff on this record that I’m not crazy about. Parts of it get a little too ‘rural’ for me, but there’s a lot to like on various parts of this album and if you give it a listen you’re likely to find that out too.