Ryan Culwell returns with The Last American, his third full-length album and first release in more than three years. The collection marks his debut on Missing Piece Records and captures Culwell at his finest as he crafts poignant portraits of ordinary Americans just trying to get by in these trying times.
“Think of my record, The Last American, as a letter to a loved one who is hurting,” explains Culwell. “I speak love, encouragement, direction, warnings and hope. This is how I speak to those I love most. Some of the songs were literally written to my daughters and we sing them before bed. The title track says the things a friend might say in a time of need… to carefully pull the festering splinter from a swollen palm. If you love America, this song is for you.”
Recently, Culwell shared “Can You Hear Me,” the first single released from The Last American. Rolling Stone Country said the song “is a mellifluent blast of Eighties dream-pop that evokes both the soul-searching lyricism and huge choruses of Springsteen… it’s an immersive, glossy listen, made for late nights, quality headphones or, even better, as the soundtrack to an episode of Stranger Things.”
The Last American finds Culwell on the other side of a lengthy break from touring, following the release of his critically acclaimed 2015 release Flatlands that saw major support from NPR Music, Rolling Stone, Guitar World and more. The last three years saw Culwell welcome his third and fourth daughters into the world while working a series of increasingly odd jobs to help support his family: roofing salesman, landscaper, tree cutter, pedal tavern driver, and a tree-cutting job that nearly killed him.
During this time, Culwell’s friends Ethan Ballinger (Lee Ann Womack, Aubrie Sellers) and Megan McCormick (Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst) casually convinced him to get back in the studio and they began tracking during off hours at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studio. Midway through the process, Culwell added longtime friend and collaborator Neilson Hubbard into the mix and finished the album in his studio.
“When I grew up and started traveling around the country, I began seeing certain truths in people’s struggles and pains, and I realized that the America that was given to me wasn’t what I’d been told it was,” Culwell reflects. “The patriotism that my father passed down didn’t have anywhere to land because that America simply didn’t exist. I’m a father myself now, and I think part of the inspiration for these songs was to try and give my children the tools to love this country for what it is and what it can be, to provide them with an accurate picture of where they are and what it means to love and hope and have empathy.”