Ryan Joseph Anderson-City of Vines

ATOZ_JKT_RyanAnderson_CityOfVines_12in.inddChicago-based singer, songwriter and band leader Ryan Joseph Anderson has just dropped his sophomore album, the alternately rollicking and subdued City of Vines.

City of Vines opens with “Molly the Flood,” a shit-kicking country rocker about a girl who leaves trouble in her wake. “The Ragged Kind” follows and manages to distill 60 years of rock n’ roll into under four minutes–the hooks are mile-wide and the song’s energy is infectious.

“Shadowboxer” comes on more subtly–there is a vulnerability at play as the singer questions the consequences of his actions–and the title track is similarly restrained and self-questioning.

“16 Lovers” features some fine guitar work by Brian Morrissey and a strong lead vocal by Anderson, while “Tooth and Tongue” has a playful funkiness that recalls Little Feat. “Diamonds” slows things down a touch–warm keyboard notes are punctuated by snappy percussion–while “The Winding Hour” is mid-tempo and almost jazzy in its execution.

City of Vines closes with two especially strong numbers: “Cherokee Rose” is a high-lonesome album highlight while “July” is grandiose and moody, a country cousin to The National’s sprawling Brooklyn rock.