Marcus Ryan is a songwriter from Texas who wound up traveling to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Somewhere along the way, he found time to write and record Walk to the Light, an album full of lonely treatises about loss and redemption. The tunes are big in the sense that they are heavily produced, with power guitars, acoustic pianos and processed drums layered over hooky themes. The core of the pieces is the bedrock messages. Ryan leaves a woman in “If I Fly” and tells her, “It’s gonna be alright,” but, despite the soaring guitars, you get the sense that it might not be. “Who would be there for you if nobody knew where you stayed?” Ryan asks on “The Road That Has No End.” The entire album is preoccupied with questions like this: What happens to people who leave their homes, leave those who matter to them and head toward an unknown and solitary future? There’s a sense of inevitability about these departures, a dour fatalism that surfaces in many of the tunes. There’s also a kind of dark honor. In “On My Own,” he tells the woman he’s leaving that it “doesn’t mean I don’t wish I was there,” and it rings true.
There’s a long musical tradition of restless songwriters, lonesome travelers all, who struggle to find solace. Ryan is part of this tradition, and the album plays like a man searching for a way to make peace with himself. That its final track is Walk to the Light, suggests that Ryan’s wanderings might have at last brought him to a place where he can rest for a while.