Soul music from the mountain top

From the depths of his impending stature comes a voice that fills the room with Clayton Ryan's tale of growing up as a blue-collar songwriter with everything to prove. From a small town in Iowa to some of the largest stages in the country, his trials as a young American from the Heartland have captivated audiences with honesty and power that makes his soul music a bona fide stand-out in the modern Americana landscape.

Clayton has shared the stage with Jalan Crossland, Peach Street Revival, Jo Dee Messina, Elizabeth Moen, Koe Wetzel, Cristina Vane, Walking Papers, Chad Elliott, and Celtic Woman to name a few. He has made appearances at The Des Moines Art Festival, Feelin' Sour? Funk Festival, The Iowa State Fair, Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Wild Bill Days, CaveFest X, Born in A Barn Festival and IPR Live Lab Sessions. 


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In March of 2020, Clayton released his debut album "Free" backed by his band The Singing Mountain. The eight track LP was recorded at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City with Iowa songwriting star and engineer Dana Telsrow. Despite coinciding pandemic conditions that cancelled a national promotional tour, the album was met with warm acclaim. Pretty Fort DSM called the album "a straightforward country album," and praised its reflective writing and guitar work, all performed and mixed by Clayton.  South Dakota Public Broadcasting noted the singer's rapid rise to the top of the Black Hills scene with the release of Free, with In The Moment host Lori Byers Walsh praising the albums final acoustic track, "Prairie Fire," for its simplicity and raw sound. 



His first work entirely based in his new home in the quiet forests outside Hill City, South Dakota, Fight The Tide is a hauntingly stoic love song about healing, compassion, and progress. Written and recorded in the dawn of a new romance with his partner and fellow performer Hannah Drewitz, the minimally-arranged country ballad features her voice providing warm female edge to a rugged chorus about withstanding fear and past mistakes. The song hit especially hard in the climax of pandemic fear and tension over racial inequality protests nationwide. The message was very simple; we must learn to forgive one another in order to fight the tide, whether that is in a new relationship, or amidst global crisis. Genevieve Trainor of Little Village Magazine hailed the song amongst her selection of Twenty for 20 - Songs that shaped Iowa's sonic landscape, where the single joined the ranks of Iowa icons like Elizabeth Moen, Jordan Sellergren, and Dan Padley. South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Lori Byers Walsh named the song "not only a showcase of a story of triumph, but also of the beauty of The Black Hills" and "just a really great, well done song."


Released at the height of summer road trip season, this swamp rock rager highlights his youth in rural Iowa, and sends a message of animalistic simplicity about the human condition. 


"The lyrics are a story that any Midwesterner could relate to: Swimming in rivers, eating wild berries, flirting with romantic flings, working summer jobs; it’s all in there. The chorus line says “Animals, making sense of it all.” I believe the message is incredibly relevant and important. There’s a lot of focus on our differences right now, but in the end, we are all just creatures figuring out our place in the world."

  - Katie Bense, Local Focus Magazine

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