Ryan Cassata (he/him) is an award-winning transgender singer-songwriter, originally from Long Island, he now lives in Los Angeles, or as he calls it “HollyWEIRD”. Ryan has been releasing music professionally since 2012, but his upcoming release, Magic Miracle Mile, is unlike any of his previous albums. Past releases like The Witches Made Me Do It and The Rhythm live more in the indie rock and alt-country-realm. Magic Miracle Mile fuses all the music genres that Ryan listened to over the past two decades together to create something unexpected.
This album is a unique fusion of genres ranging from country to hip-hop, folk to emo, grunge to pop. There’s a little something for every music fan on here and of course, there’s maybe country undertones throughout the album and tracks that live in the country world like the title track, Golden Hour, and C’mon Sarah It’s Great To Be 8.
Unable to get to a studio during the shelter in place, Ryan began self-recording and self-producing in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles. Listening to the album, you can tell he took the time he needed to perfect this well-thought-out masterpiece. You’d never know this is his first time self-recording, mixing, and producing.
Magic Miracle Mile is the story of heartbreak, the often-dark emotions that come with breaking up, and the previous trauma that is brought back up due to the loss of a romantic relationship. He shares openly for the first time how coming out as trans on international television at 15 years old affected him mentally. Plus, he destroys transphobia on “Hometown HEro.” Let’s dive in deep…here’s a track by track review of the magic that is Magic Miracle Mile:
Magic Miracle Mile starts with a poetic interlude driven by piano and violins (performed live by Stephen Spies) that prefaces the mood of the whole album, the combination of feeling lost and hurt, desperate to understand what happened and where to go from what feels like rock bottom. Ryan speaks “If you’re spiraling out…I’m here with you” perhaps a message to his audience that they aren’t alone during these trying times.
R&B/Bedroom Pop track, “Guard Rail” immediately draws the listener in with its bassline. This is a dark track: it lays out the darkest emotions of a breakup, while also admitting guilt and regret. The lyrics allude to this pain feeling like the end of life as he sings about “the end” of Long Island, AKA Montauk. You can hear the pain in Ryan’s vocal when he says, “I apologize, I know it don’t make it right but- I apologize.”
The next track, “Starfucker$”, was the first single that was released from this album. It’s upbeat with hip-hop influence, it combines his original acoustic guitar sound with synthetic drums. This track is the anthem for calling people out who just want to ride coattails. It’s about Ryan’s Middle and High School bullies that are coming out of the woodwork and trying to act like they’ve always supported him – when they never did.
With a smooth hip-hop-type beat, “Coffin” explains the desperation and devastation that follows a breakup and the lack of contact. Towards the end of the track, there’s a realization that the only way to fully move on is to let it go. I relate to this emo-hip hop song, and I’m sure anyone who’s gone through a devastating heartbreak will as well.
“Loner Boy” features San Francisco-based, trans artist Niko Storment. Niko’s gritty vocals are a great compliment to Ryan’s production and vocals on this song. This song is about realizing you’re in a toxic relationship and love has gone bad. I love the power that comes towards the end when Ryan says, “I’ve been an angel in your life and you ain’t acting right.” The lyrics are empowering and switch from sadness to anger. Loner Boy features a music video with Ryan in the studio and Niko Storment dressed as a creepy clown.
“Mattress” is about trying to date again. You want someone because you’re lonely but also are so afraid to let someone in again. “I don’t mind you on my mattress, Over it the next day after.” The spacious beat allows Ryan’s voice to really come through and enjoy the lyrics. This track can easily be listened to on repeat, towards the end the bass drops out and it’s just Ryan with an acoustic guitar, going back to his original folky formation.
You can tell this song is especially close to Ryan’s heart. It’s about members of his family that still don’t accept his transition, his pronouns, or even his name. When Ryan announced this single, he mentioned he struggled with the idea of releasing this song- but he realized he’s been out and proud for over half of his life. These lyrics really stand out to me: “It’s every time I go back though/ I never see you at the home show/ It might still be a phase though/ Won’t change my name in your cell phone.”
Enjoy the professional music video directed by George Danno:
“Magic Miracle Mile”
This is a dynamically fun track that fuses Ryan’s original style of indie rock/singer-songwriter with hip-hop. The bridge section takes a turn into the land of hip hop. The chorus goes: “I’ll be hanging on for a while/ Making magic in the miracle mile/ If you wanna drop me a line.” The use of the word “Magic” alludes to Ryan’s previous album The Witches Made Me Do It. There’s also a special feature on this one – Ryan’s dog Geoffrey (who is even credited on the back of the physical CDs)!
“Ghosts R Gone”
This song is about finding peace after the initial heartache. Realizing the state of things now, and being able to forgive the parties involved. You can really tell how personal this record is for Ryan, “And I’m sorry if these tracks were a plateful/ This new one was mean sometimes/ But I needed it to pass the time/ I needed to process through lines/ Because you needed to exit my mind.”
“OK, On The Record”
This is an Interlude that Ryan intends to speak for itself. I can only imagine what it’s about, I’ll just put this intense lyric for you here: “You want to be on this record, well okay on the record, you can’t take back what you said.” Mic drop!
“Broken Heart (Transcend)”
This song is about the pain that Ryan has felt most of his life; pain that comes from growing up trans, becoming an immediate activist, and giving up his childhood in the process. Ryan had to grow up fast to be able to fight and speak for those who couldn’t. He has been speaking at schools and universities since he was 13 years old and first appeared on TV at 15 years old on the Larry King Live Show. Quarantine was the first time Ryan really took a break from touring and was able to process his altered teenagehood.
“Hollyweird” has many featured artists and for a good cause. This song is about our unhoused neighbors in Los Angeles. Ryan plans to use this song to raise money and help support his unhoused neighbors. Featured on this track are very incredible artists: Clayton Bryant, XanTheArtist, Nikki Blonsky, and Niko Storment.
“C’mon Sarah, It’s Great To Be 8”
This is my personal favorite track of the album and is probably the most emotional. Ryan gets honest with his listeners about his anxiety and the panic that has been a part of his life since before he transitioned and changed his name. Not a lot of transgender people are comfortable with their dead name, so this really shows the strength that Ryan has and how comfortable he is with his past. This track starts by talking about a panic attack Ryan had at school on his 8th birthday. It goes into another panic attack when watching himself come out on the Larry King Live Show at age 15. He also talks about how this has affected his addiction and led to his now 7 years of sobriety. Overall, this track shows Ryan’s growth and the grateful and present place he is in now. This song is so powerful and really touched me from the moment I first heard it.
Golden Hour is a beautiful love song that’s more of Ryan’s original, acoustic sound. Being from California myself, I know Golden Hour in California is a very short amount of time- so it’s touching that the last song, which is so much about love, has a title that speaks to the fact that this love has a time limit and the light will go out. It is also the perfect song to bring you back into the beginning of the album to only deeper understand that loss of love and where that brokenheartedness starts.
Written by King of the Kastle
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