John Ralston's bumpy ride through the music industry has only strengthened his purpose. In the early '00s, the South Florida singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist almost broke with his alt-country band Legends of Rodeo before their label went belly-up. He watched close friend Chris Carrabba explode with Dashboard Confessional, even as Carrabba was citing Ralston as his favorite songwriter. Passion and not a little luck brought him into the studio to record his solo debut Needle Bed in 2004, which got the attention of Carrabba and former Wilco member Jay Bennett. Through their urging, Ralston signed to major indie Vagrant Records for a re-release of Needle Bed, an impeccably-arranged album of jangly, bittersweet Americana and deeply affecting lyrics. It's a serious bid for widespread appeal, and he's definitely earned it.