Amy Speace, Ryan Culwell | Hideout | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader
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Ryan Culwell

Ryan Culwell

Courtesy the artist

Amy Speace, Ryan Culwell 

When: Thu., April 30, 9 p.m. 2015
Price: $18, $15 in advance
Ryan Culwell evokes the hardscrabble spirit of countless folk-country songwriters from the Lone Star State, and on his recent third album, Flatlands (Lightning Rod)—a title that refers to the Texas panhandle, where he grew up—he collides rock ’n’ roll augmented by his literary inclinations with Nashville sensibilities. Though his sweet-toned voice reminds me of his fellow Texan Rodney Crowell, Culwell leavens his dusky twang with bits of anthemic Bruce Springsteen and blues-drenched laments. The tear-stained ballad “Won’t Come Home” is actually of the you-can’t-go-home variant—as told by a guy pleading with his lover not to split—while “Red River” is one of several nuanced tunes that grapple with the good and the bad of the panhandle while rejecting the black-and-white outlook that ruins too many contemporary country songs. —Peter Margasak
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