Strays Don't Sleep
is a collaboration between two of Nashville's most honest and secretive rock songwriters. Neilson Hubbard has long been involved with outsider-AAA pop (he's worked with Glen Phillips and Garrison Starr) but now sounds darker and raspier, while Matthew Ryan gets dreamier and if not more chipper, at least less threatening and more forgiving, though with Ryan forgiveness is relative. "We're born like a bullet from a gun," he sings, as if he's glimpsed an exit from scorched history. "Our shadows look small against that setting sun." The bandmates drop glitch and single piano notes into their watery, Blue Nile-inspired acoustics, building soundtracks for the films inside their heads (and on the DVD portion of their self-titled debut) and projecting with suggestive, shadowy lyricism.