Ryan Lee is an honest, heartfelt Singer/Songwriter. He spent last summer tucked away in the North Woods of Wisconsin, writing his new album, "Always A River". These earthy songs are snapshots of a year in his life, full of new love, bold adventure, and creative rebirth.
We all get stuck. In a relationship, a job, a project, a city. Whatever it may be, we tend not to think about making significant changes to our path. We make it "fine". And that's what I was doing. I was stuck and completely unaware. I thought my life was good. I thought I was content, in love and happy. I thought I was with the right man. Everything was "fine". Creatively, I also thought I was on the right path. After four years as a solo artist and five years in a band with my brother, I thought my musical needs were being fulfilled. Recording and releasing albums, squeezing shows and touring in between waiting tables to make rent. My life was good enough. I would soon learn that my thoughts are not to be trusted. I would also soon realize that my soul was crying out for a new path, and an invitation to meet my deeper, destined self was waiting for an answer.
Everything changed when I went to the River. I certainly did not see any of this coming. It was a fresh spring, which would prove to be fitting. I had been friends with Tod, a working actor and creative artist, for three years, but we hadn't spent much time together. He is a talented, free-spirited, dreamer man, and I was happy to hear that we would be working together on a theater project. Every night after the show, we would go for a walk along the banks of the Mississippi. He shared his stories and mantras and I talked about my dreams of sharing my music with the world. Just two friends enjoying the glow of the city lights bouncing off the dirty water. It was during these sacred moments that my world started to shift and I didn't even know it was happening. The next thing I know, I wake up on a calm July morning and tell the man I live with that I am completely in love with someone else. That without a speck of doubt, I just know that I am supposed to be with my hippie-dippie, river-walking dreamer man, Tod. And that morning, I left the life I thought was good enough.
In an instant, my world was blown wide open. My focus shifted to optimism, honesty, creativity, boldness and adventure. My husband-to-be and I connected in a way that I never even knew I wanted. This concept of having a teammate became our most important thing. We worked on another show in the fall, and then spent the winter in Thailand, creating music and theater with kids. We spent the next spring and summer in the North Woods of Wisconsin, and after years of being a city boy, I found my love for the country life. We did The Artists Way (a twelve week creative recovery course), and I learned that my journey as an artist can be whatever I decide works best for me. I spent most of the summer outside, walking the gravel roads through the forest, or in a huge open field next to our little home. I tried my best to "be" instead of "do". I called myself a Singer/Songwriter, but had not written a single song for two years. During this magical summer, I started writing again. I took my guitar outside and played, just for fun, remembering why I ever picked it up in the first place, so many years ago. When the summer was over, I found myself with a fresh batch of songs that captured the whirlwind of a year I had just experienced. My life as a creative songwriter, singer and musician had been completely rejuvenated. We then returned to Minneapolis, where I spent the winter recording this new collection of songs, fittingly titled "Always A River".
We all get stuck. We all need a reset at some point. I am so grateful that I got my chance to start over. My life was good enough, but it wasn't my dream. A bold, exciting adventure was waiting for me. I went to the river and answered the call.