If you’ve ever experienced the unyielding plethora of singing television shows, you’re well familiar with excess twang and vibrato those who think they can sing belt out in mind-numbing repetition. Every vocal hopeful seemingly feels the need to incorporate the entirely unnecessary wavering vocal tactic to their favorite song which their friends cruelly convinced them to sing in to a camera. To the friends, stop. To the singers, stop. Ryan Humbert, please don’t stop.

Ryan Humbert is too pop to be country and too country to be pop. Finding an oddly comfortable place in the middle of the duel genre span, Ryan Humbert embodies a wholesome American sound in voice and ethic.  How he still has a voice is beyond me. His more than impressive 150 shows per year leaves me in disbelief that he’d have time to sit down and rest, let alone record a fifteen track album.  A testament to his relentless dedication to his music, when he wasn’t opening for the talents of bands from Train to Foreigner and everywhere in between, he was working on his forthcoming album Sometimes The Game Plays You.

Humbert’s deeply heartfelt lyrics pour out track over track while the varying styles keep his latest record from becoming flat. “Home is Where Your Heart Bleeds” entangles you in a beautifully intimate ballad of longing and pain as he sings “All these pills and cigarettes/they’re the ones that know me best.” “Tattoo” delivers that youthful passion inside us all; it is that track that makes you want to pick up an acoustic guitar and serenade your love.  Sometimes The Game Plays You plays to the upbeat exactly where it should and finds comfort in the down-tempo at just the perfect moment. Talents like this don’t come along often and it is no surprise that Humbert has graced the stage with Patrick Monahan and gang. The man from Akron, Ohio has turned down the city and turned up the mid-west in his surprisingly original sound.

I’ve never been a fan of pop-country and especially not a fan of the over use of twang soaked in vibrato, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say Ryan Humbert didn’t find the perfect blend of the two. His ability walk a fine line that tempts at overbearing, but never crosses into the intolerable has me taking my hat off to him. I don’t blame you if this sounds out of your comfort zone in text, it did to me too, but hearing Sometimes The Game Plays You play out stimulates your musical appreciation and is well worth the step outside the bubble.