Arts & Culture

Songwriter Ryan Thompson draws influence from Johnny Cash to Wilco on country-inflected “Waiting On A Ghost” debut album, out May 24th

Waiting On A Ghost by Ryan Thompson & The Delicate Hounds was produced by Max Hart (The War on Drugs, We Are Scientists)

Ryan Thompson has been a visual artist, poet, husband, father, businessman, alt-rocker, and singer-songwriter. It took a lot of living to find his voice, and now Thompson is finally set to release his debut album of songs about that life (and maybe about your life, too.)

Waiting on a Ghost by Ryan Thompson & The Delicate Hounds arrives on May 24th. The album is comprised of Country-influenced songs about feelings and events that we’ve all experienced. Songs that resonate lyrically, but also melodically.

“Even the sad songs need hooks!,” Thompson jokes with the bit of truth that all good humor has. These essentials get taken home on the album by the pro-style of session players on drums, pedal steel, and keyboards. Full-of-heart female backing vocals merge beautifully with the swells, bends and layers of a Hammond B-3. Thompson named this band to represent these sounds that they made together: “We are strong, but delicate. We are wolves with a conscience. We are Delicate Hounds.”

“I did not spend my twenties on the music scene, trying to make a name for myself,” Thompsonexplains of his origins. “From the age of 21, I focused solely on my family and building my business career to support us. I always loved everything about making music, but it just wasn’t in the cards during these years.”

The Sacramento-based musician finally found sound in his 30’s, though he had yet to discover himself.

“I started what was basically a 90’s, alternative band with some lifelong friends,” Thompsonremembers. “It’s kind of weird, but I wrote most of our songs on the bass guitar, and even though the songs were not great, and we were definitely not good, after a couple years practicing and writing, we put together some pretty catchy tunes.”

As so many bands assembled “just for fun” will do, Thompson’s went away. It was at this time that the burgeoning Americana genre began to take hold, drawing Thompson to artists such as The Avett BrothersDrive-By Truckers, and Justin Townes Earle. Coincidentally, Thompson had just moved from playing bass to playing guitar at this time, though he had yet to start focusing on writing again.

The change happened when another friend, in need of an acoustic guitarist for his new country band, approached Thompson about joining them.

“It was fun because the crowds were always into it and could sing along and dance,” Thompsonsays. “I enjoy that type of energy and I also love the formula for country songs. So, I started writing songs on the side. The most popular was called ‘Poppin’ Pills and Sweatin’, which I wrote based on a discussion about how Johnny Cash must have felt when he was flying while all hopped up on pills. The crowd always loved this song, and after I started to write more and more, I decided to leave the band and focus on my own sound.”

Thompson began writing country-influenced songs with a little more depth to them than “Poppin’ Pills and Sweatin,” and soon another fortuitous friendship saw him forming a new band, Million Dollar Giveaway, which released two EPs, toured throughout California, and provided the proving ground for the songs that later became Waiting on a Ghost.

“The making of this album started in Mexico,” Thompson says of the trip he took there with his former Million Dollar Giveaway bandmate. The two were accompanied by a laptop, microphone, keyboard, a ukulele, an old guitar, and an upright bass previously owned by Thompson’s wife’s grandfather.

“I remember sending the demo of the song ‘Waiting on a Ghost’ to my wife after we recorded it and realizing that I was on to something,” Thompson says. “A whole new sound and feel was starting to emerge.”

Inspired by the Mexico demos, Thompson knew he needed to flesh out the songs and complete an album.

“I reached out to Max Hart to see about recording the songs. He had just worked with The War on Drugs and was finishing up the We Are Scientists album. He is also the full time keyboard and guitar player in Melissa Etheridge’s band, so the fact that he was interested in taking on my project was flattering. I went to Los Angeles to record my tracks, and we continued to work on things remotely between LA and Sacramento. It truly was a collaboration. Both of our visions are represented, and I believe fulfilled, on this album.”

About the author

Artvoice

News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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