Music is thoroughly entwined with our lives—organically spreading from person to person and city to city, leaving a trail of devotees in its wake. Singer-songwriter Ryan Dunson, who has played under the name Rookie of the Year since 2004, has embraced this fact, crisscrossing the country nearly a dozen times, winning hearts and developing a deeply personal connection with his fans.
The Most Beautiful is Rookie of the Year's third studio album and marks the shining moment in Dunson's evolution from acoustic-pop upstart to shimmering indie troubadour. Rookie of the Year began as a solo acoustic project, then evolved into a full band, and has been stripped down and rebuilt several times since, giving his audience a different perspective with each record and tour.
"The new album is a fresh start for me," says the Fayetteville, North Carolina-based Dunson. "It takes elements from the past records but focuses much more on the overall songwriting effort." The Most Beautiful is a tightly-constructed collaborative effort between Dunson, producer Matt Malpass (Copeland, Lydia) and friends including Matt Thiessen (of the Grammy-nominated Relient K) and Erika Lauren (of MTV's The Real World: DC), among others.
The Most Beautiful chronicles Dunson's growth as both a musician and a person. "The song 'Run Away' is all about creating a new adventure," he says of the vast soundscape that opens the album. "Then there's 'Turn the Page,' which is about letting go of the past—something that I've had to do as Rookie of the Year has evolved over the years." Songs on the record efficiently dance between genres while ultimately yearning for a brighter future, endearing Rookie of the Year to many.
Dunson's packed tour schedule and willingness to play everywhere he can have enabled him to connect with fans of all ages. "At first, my audience was primarily teenagers, but now at shows I see younger fans all the way up to parents singing along with the music. It's really a cool atmosphere," he explains. "I'd like to think there's a universal element to my music where you never really have to grow out of Rookie of the Year."
Rookie of the Year has sold over 70,000 records in the last 5 years and songs have appeared on MTV's Laguna Beach and The Hills. Radio stations as far away as Indonesia have also fallen in love with "Frustrated" off of The Most Beautiful. With over 10 million plays on social networking sites and previous tours with Mutemath, LFO, Secondhand Serenade, and Gym Class Heroes, Rookie of the Year has earned a place as one of the hardest-working artists in today's music scene.
"I write music to help people get through the bad times in their lives," says Dunson. "Life is an adventure and I hope The Most Beautiful can be the soundtrack to it."