EW Staff
October 10, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Because this Midwestern rookie truly sounds like a genetically engineered Dylan/Springsteen/Mellencamp hybrid, it’s tempting to write him off as just another modestly talented roots-rock hopeful. But after a few spins, individual songs kick in, and Ryan’s gruff-voiced sensitive-guy persona takes hold, revealing him to be a better-than-average latter-day troubadour. Instant classic: ”Dam.” B

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