Ryan Montbleau has been an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and bandleader for more than a decade, but with his new album I Was Just Leaving the New England-based artist has truly arrived. Contemplative and richly emotive, the album offers a glimpse into the often-lonesome life of the relentlessly traveling troubadour, a strikingly single-minded existence too often clouded by the blur of constant motion. Recorded at New Orleans’ Esplanade Studios over four days in January 2016 with producer Anders Osborne and engineer/mixer Mark Howard (known for his work with such icons as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and U2), the album marks Montbleau’s first full length release in the wake of a series of seismic personal shifts.
Montbleau has been among America’s finest songwriters and performers, earning national attention and a fervent fan following with songs like “75 and Sunny” and his breakthrough cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” the latter a Spotify smash with total streams now in excess of 14 million.
Montbleau’s guitar playing and vocals are both front and center on I Was Just Leaving, with Anders Osborne accompanying on drums, percussion, bass, guitar, and harmonica, each used simply and sparsely for maximum effect. Osborne and Howard built upon that same goal, creating space and capturing rawness by utilizing as many early takes as possible.