Texas is a place where talented songwriters seem as common as crabgrass, but Ryan Culwell is one Lone Star tunesmith who had to move away from his home state before he could write and record his breakthrough album.
Ryan Culwell was born in 1980 in Perryton, Texas, not far from the Oklahoma border, and grew up in the Texas Panhandle, where his father and older brother worked manual labor under difficult circumstances. "My dad and brother have always worked the kind of jobs that required them to wake up at three in the morning to fix whatever went wrong," Culwell said, "even if the wind was blowing 60 miles per hour and it was five degrees." Hoping for a different life, Culwell went off to college to study economics, but while pursuing his studies, Culwell's interest in music grew, and he began writing songs. As he chased his dream of becoming a singer/songwriter, Culwell made his living waiting tables, delivering air conditioners, selling roofing, and working as a oil-field roughneck, among other odd jobs, and in 2006 he released an album, Heroes on the Radio, through a small independent label. While the record was a strong effort that walked the line between Texas country and rootsy rock & roll, it didn't make much of an impression commercially, and with a wife and two children, he decided his family was more important than touring and he dropped out of music for several years. However, in 2011 Culwell heard the call of his muse, and he relocated to Nashville, Tennessee and began working on songs again. Having put some distance between himself and the hardscrabble territory where he grew up, Culwell began writing more personal songs that reflected the places and people he knew best, and he began making a name for himself in Music City with his new material. Culwell struck a deal with the well-respected roots music label Lightning Rod Records
, and in March 2015 they released his second album, Flatland, a moody and atmospheric song cycle about hard times and hard luck in the Panhandle. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi