Ryan Cassata (he/him) is an award-winning, transgender singer-songwriter, who has been releasing music professionally since 2012, but his latest release, “Magic Miracle Mile,” is unlike his previous albums.
This album is a unique fusion of genres ranging from country to hip-hop, folk to emo, grunge to pop.
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, 28, a Los Angeles resident via Long Island, listened to the past two decades to create something unexpected.
“Magic Miracle Mile” is the story of heartbreak, the often-dark emotions that come with breaking up, and the trauma that is brought back up due to the loss of a romantic relationship. He shares openly for the first time about 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 are some track reviews of the magic that is “Magic Miracle Mile.”
The CD starts with a poetic interlude driven by piano and violins (performed live by Stepehn 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 says, “If you’re spiraling out…I’m here with you.” Perhaps it’s 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 with its bass line. 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.”
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An upbeat with hip-hop influence, “Starfucker$” combines his acoustic guitar 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 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. Toward the end of the track there’s a realization that the only way to fully move on is to let it go. I’m sure anyone who’s gone through a devastating heartbreak will relate to this song.
Featuring San Francisco-based trans artist Niko Storment, Niko’s gritty vocals are a great compliment to Ryan’s production and vocals. This song is about realizing you’re in a toxic relationship and love has gone bad. I love the power that comes toward 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 dressed as a creepy clown.
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“Mattress” is about trying to date again. You want someone because you’re lonely, but 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. Toward the end, the bass drops out, and it’s just Ryan with an acoustic guitar, going back to his 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 said he struggled with the idea of releasing it — but realized he’s been out and proud for more than half of his life. These lyrics really stand out: “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.”
“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.
“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 eighth birthday. It goes into another panic attack when watching himself come out on Larry King at 15. He also talks about how this has affected his addiction and led to his now seven years of sobriety. Overall, this track shows Ryan’s growth and the grateful and present place.