Possessing a repertoire of blending anything from New Orleans jazz to acoustic folk rock, Ryan Montbleau, a musician hailing from Peabody, Mass., is essentially the preeminent chameleon of the modern musical circuit. While his songwriting talents stretch to recount his nearly 15-year history on the road, one core element remains, which is a sense of longing to belong.
“I try to write and create what I can hear and what I am feeling and so however that comes out … they find their way in naturally,” said Montbleau, contemplating on blending various genres into his songwriting style.
After releasing 10 albums over a 14-year span, Montbleau has slowly become a master of his craft, earning immeasurable respect amongst his peers that has allowed him to be featured at numerous festivals throughout the country, including Gathering of the Vibes in Bridgeport, Conn. The respect stems from his unique perspective on songwriting and lyrical composition that range from the gleefully contemplative “75 and Sunny” to the adventure crafted in “My Best Guess,” which acts as an auditory road trip.
“For me, it comes little by little, all day long,” said Montbleau. “My antennas are always open to that.”
His success in the studio has translated well live. At one point early in Montbleau’s career, he would conduct over 200 concerts a year between his solo career and his band, the Ryan Montbleau Band. The live stage was able to breed a foundation that has comfortably become second nature for Montbleau, so much so that he will often base setlists on audience reactions in real time.
“Some of the solo shows, lots of times, I’ll just put a whole list of tunes in front of me and pick some,” said Montbleau. “I really like that because it gives me the freedom of feeling out the room and really being in the moment with the songs I pick.”
However, with RMB shows, the emphasis is on the deliverance — the ability to energize the audience while also allowing them to think on the music.
“Solo shows really require a listening environment … with a band, you can really beat people over the head, and keep with the beat, and the bodies, literally, with the music,” said Montbleau.
“What I’m trying to do live is to move you, but also get you to listen,” added Montbleau.
RMB is a live staple in the folk rock community, but briefly went on a hiatus in 2013 after a string of farewell shows. In 2015, Montbleau would reconvene the original group at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston to commemorate the release of “Growing Light,” which was written and performed by RMB over various sessions in 2013.
While RMB continues to tour, the focus shifts to Montbleau’s solo career as he looks forward to a solo release in 2017, produced by jam musician and guitarist Anders Osborne. Recorded in Esplanade Studios under engineer Mark Howard, who previously produced records for Bob Dylan and U2, Montbleau uses the record as a sort of contemplative measure of years that seemingly highlighted the loneliness in his life.
“I think it’s my most heartfelt record,” said Montbleau, who complimented Osborne for “keeping the rawness on there.” Fans can expect the newest release in early 2017.
“It’s been quite a ride, for sure,” added Montbleau.
The Ryan Montbleau Band will play The Warehouse in downtown Fairfield, Conn. on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m.