“I couldn’t overcome feeling I’d been dropped into the novel world of Cormac McCarthy’s gritty western fiction meets pure Southern Gothic. Lyrics are imbued with a straightforward clarity and darkness. Melodies echo universal hard-scrabble characters and striking vistas….You can nearly feel the fading heart, the grieving, the loss, the warm fluids running across cold fingers.” - REFUELED MAGAZINE
Ryan Holweger lived a lot of life before releasing his first solo record, Gunmetal Sky. Those familiar with Minneapolis roots music will recognize the voice that fronted the Western Fifth during their storied run, now it has returned and is coming from a seasoned songwriter fronting a new handpicked band of Twin Cities musicians. Refueled Magazine, describing the storm of emotions that are Holweger's songwriting, said: “You can nearly feel the fading heart, the grieving, the loss, the warm fluids running across cold fingers.”
Gunmetal Sky is a record over three years in the making, written in Minnesota backyards and Thailand living rooms, honed in dive bars and breweries across America and western music halls throughout Southeast Asia. It’s a record written by a father raising his daughter on two continents, writing his emotions wherever he is, and recorded with Mark Stockert at Underwood Studios whenever his feet hit the Midwest soil that raised him. There are more musicians on Gunmetal Sky than students in Ryan’s graduating class in his rural North Dakota hometown, and they balance raw talent with intense energy harvested in a way seldom seen from a debut full length.
The album features heavy hitters like Dave Boquist from Son Volt on fiddle and guitar, Mick Wirtz and Jimmy Peterson from Bellwether on drums and National Steel Guitar, respectively, and a host of other seasoned veterans of the Twin Cities music scene. It also includes meaningful contributions like Ryan’s longtime friend and bass player from Western Fifth, Joshua Christenson. The most heartwarming appearance on Gunmetal Sky, though, comes in the form of the incredible vocal harmonies of Katie Anderson, who calls Ryan her husband. The wedded duet truly stands out on a track that Ryan reconstructed from sheet music for a song his grandfather wrote about a lost love so many decades ago.
This is the record that Ryan Holweger has been trying to put out since he started writing music. At long last we’re able to hear his words, chords, and travels in a collection that is both polished and rusted, cohesive and chaotic, personal and relatable.
This is Gunmetal Sky.