Melbourne singer songwriter Ryan Sterling specialises in a very strong, rock-influenced form of country. Citing people like Keith Richards and Johnny Thunders as inspiration, that sense of country being mixed and cut with something else is what shines through the strongest on Sterling’s third album release.

Kicking off with “Wound Up Here”, Sterling, apart from a few guest spots here and there, paints his own unique sense of musical vision and journey over the course of the sixteen tracks on Cut From Clouds. The results immediately prompt images of lazy Sunday afternoons spent driving out of the city, as one does to clear their head sometimes. The album really captures that positive headspace.

Highlights include the beautiful “Dream Of Flying”, with its yearning for something better in life and gorgeous banjo riff weaving its way through the track. What is so refreshing and heartening about Cut From Clouds is that is doesn’t fall into the trap of being maudlin or depressing. Although it does traipse some dark waters, such as the powerful and bluesy “No Place For God In This Building”, which could have sounded right at home on a Nick Cave album, it never overwhelms the listener to the point where they feel depressed or want to turn off the CD.

One complaint that could be levelled at Cut From Clouds is that it could have done with some editing of the tracks. It does repeat itself at times. However, this is offset by the quality of the material presented.

Sterling is definitely a talented musician and one to watch out for. This is a solid listen for those who like their country rock inspired by the life that Sterling has lead and the dreams he has had.

– Neil Evans