Ryan Sobb is a young songwriter with a weathered heart and soul beyond his years. Sobb has been playing music for six years, initially playing guitar in a number of projects that blended covers with original songwriting. He first cut his teeth in a band called Open Heart Experiment, a group he formed with close high school friends in Barrington, Illinois. After an enjoyable learning experience with that band, he moved on to a more serious group called Flounder Gus. The band gained local popularity and Sobb stepped up as a frontman and songwriter, citing influences by Pavement, Neil Young, Jason Molina, and Steven Stills as playing instrumental roles in his musical growth. Most recently Sobb fronted another project, Moonlander, again as the guitarist and lead vocalist, and stretched his limits by incorporating indie influences and female vocals. “These guys, Carly Smith, Ben Brady, and Ron Gierlach, are my best friends,” Sobb said when asked about his experience with Moonlander, “and the writing was exactly what I wanted it to be.”
Yet all good this must come to an end, and the band separated due to the member’s external ambitions. Currently Sobb resides in Birmingham, Alabama where he is studying music, and the distance between him and his former bandmates has not slowed him down as a songwriter but created an opportunity for individual expression. Sobb continued to write music even as his band members were leaving and separating, and the result is a solo album that harnesses all the strengths of his past experiences and offers an intimate look inside his mind and soul. The EP Second to Mary is Sobb at his best, utilizing influences from classic rock and alt-country to form a musical vision all his own.
Every song has a story and a myriad of influences from Sobb’s life. He cites his mother’s struggle with Multiple Sclerosis and the challenges this brought on his family as an emotional well he tapped when creating these songs. “Growing up in a privileged community I tend to wonder what is the price of that privilege, so that comes out in the writing. I also like to write as an analysis of the permanency of things that we cling to, like love, money, material posessions, and oddly enough wisdom.” The result is a collection of songs with individual personalities but coherent hearts. When asked about the title of the EP, Sobb explains “Its supposed to mean second to Mary Magdalene. Like ‘you’re perfect, but ya know, as far as perfect goes.’ I guess its kind of a theme, going along with the ideas of permanence and entitlement.”
Second To Mary marks an important point in Sobb’s life, both as a person and an artist. “It’s kind of like your first car.” he reflects, “You absolutely love that you have a set of wheels. But you hope when you’re 25 that you’re driving something new…something that the gals dig.” He’s optimistic about the record though, and his future as a musician. Sobb soon hopes to find a band in Alabama, play shows, and eventually take his music on the road. For now, though he is happy with where he is and proud of this album as the result of his life experiences and relentless songwriting. “My hope for the record is that a lot of people hear it, and a few of them listen.”
‘Second to Mary’ is available for $4.00 that’s less than a latte, less than lunch, less than a video game, less than a night at the movies, less than a t-shirt, and less than a beer. Help keep music alive. A portion of the profits from the sale of the album will go to a charitable organization supporting music, musicians, and music education.