Akron singer-songwriter Ryan Humbert, who has recently been performing in the area again following his move to Nashville last year to record his latest album, will be doing a special show at the Kent Stage at 8 p.m. Friday that he’s calling “Ryan Humbert: Strung Out.”
A nine-piece acoustic lineup, complete with a string quartet, will perform a bunch of Humbert’s originals — including many of the tunes on the new Old Souls, New Shoes CD — plus interpretations of songs by the Beatles, Peter Gabriel, Frank Sinatra and others. Tickets are $8 advance, $19 at the door. Ashley Brooke Toussant opens.
“The idea behind this show is to take our music and strip it down to focus on the song,” says Humbert. “We're typically a loud rock band, but we want to show our other side as well. It also gives us an opportunity to showcase these songs, as well as some unique covers, in a way that we are not typically able to do so.”
Old Souls, New Shoes is actually the fifth independently released CD by the 28-year-old performer. (That includes three solo studio CDs, a live acoustic album and a duet effort with Emily Bates). It showcases his increasing confidence with rootsy material that combines both a hard-hitting anthemic urgency and a hauntingly dark edge on tunes like “Sideways,” “Around the World” and “Misery Loves Company” (not the Michael Stanley Band tune, although there are many similarities between Humbert’s style and MSB’s).
The songs run the gamut from “Redemption”’s electric-blues wail to the funky “People Standing Still” and the muscular, glowering R&B of “Stand Alone,” which recalls vintage Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. There’s a loosey-goosey jam-band vibe on “Someday” that contrasts with the pensive, deliberate pace of the big ballad “Under a Late Night Sky.” —Anastasia Pantsios