Ryan Webb grew up in the hard, working-class neighborhoods of Chester, Pennsylvania, escaping with dreams of rock 'n' roll. An older brother wasn't so lucky, eventually being sentenced to a lengthy incarceration for unspecified crimes, prompting Ryan to join their first names for his stage identity as a sign of support. Now an accomplished singer-songwriter with 11 albums to his credit, Ryan mines the world of his youth for his disaffected tales riddled with ghosts, disappointments, lost chances, and mistakes. The glimmers of hope are slender, but often radiant, with soaring anthems sometimes reminiscent of U2 riding his raspy voice and intense delivery, earning comparisons to the likes of Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen. His latest, Matthew Ryan Vs. The Silver State (00:02:59), concludes with the U2ish "Closing In," which neatly turns a suggested threat into an opportunity: "Maybe we'll never win/But we're closing in." Scattered rootsy resonators, mandolins, and especially fiddles also cast rays of deliverance. Opener Josh Joplin is another smart singer-songwriter, who sounds a bit like Michael Stipe and produces well-crafted songs that finely blend pop, folk, and rock. His last album, 2005's Jaywalker, was an engaging collection of memorably detailed songs, including one featuring Jesus as a Walmart greeter.
Sun., June 22, 7 p.m., 2008