I HAVEN’T as yet been fortunate enough to catch Derek Ryan live. Hopefully that will change when he hits Britain for shows in Cambridgeshire and Blackpool this month.
On record Ryan’s vocal delivery and easy-going demeanour is what’s most striking about his music.
A native of Garyhill, Co. Carlow, Ryan grew up with a great love of traditional music, playing bodhran and drums and picking up All-Ireland titles along the way.
Although his first foray into the live music scene was modest, performing with his brother Adrian at socials, not even he could have predicted what lay ahead.
At the age of 17 his career took an exciting turn. Moving to London, he signed to Warner Music and became lead singer with Irish boyband D–Side, who enjoyed chart success in Ireland, Britain and Japan from 2002.
Yet it was an earlier gig that stuck with Ryan. In 1997 he caught Garth Brooks at Croke Park and the inspirational show stoked Ryan’s interest in Country and Irish music. Quietly penning songs in the midst of his chart success, he left D-Side in 2009 and ‘went Country’.
At a time when the distinction between country and pop records was vague, Ryan stuck to his roots and flew the flag for country music.
Because stories form the core of many successful country hits, the form has been referred to as lyric music and Ryan has the gift to create lyrics from everyday life.
Taking some time to consider his sound, Ryan hooked onto the Nashville sounds of Garth Brooks and George Strait and with the old melodies from his formative years he was ready to go for it. Almost.
Whilst trying to establish himself as a songwriter, he took up accountancy to earn a living. With his boyish clean-cut good looks, dulcet tones, wholesome appearance and easy manner, Ryan produced his debut album A Mothers Son with the single God’s Plan receiving rave reviews and enormous air play.
He has now done the full cycle from pop idol to country star in a very short time, and as preoccupied as he might be with his own material, he sings songs that people like.
Consistency is found in the direct and simple use of language in the telling of stories that link the country songs with the lives of ordinary people.
A shy and retiring young man, Derek is blessed with good looks and an abundance of talent; although our paths have yet to cross at one of his performances, I predict a very bright future for him. My overall impression is of a man who will be around for a very long time in the entertainment business.
Now with four critically-acclaimed albums on release, including his most recent, Country Soul, Ryan is well ahead of his dreams.