The 36-year-old singer-songwriter was inspired to make his new work better than ever after his producer Ethan Johns sent him a copy of the British folk star's record 'I Speak Because I Can'.
He said: "I thought, 'For f**k's sake.' I literally threw out 80 per cent of what I had. And it felt good, to ask, 'What am I really capable of?'
"I felt competitive again to write great songs."
Ryan - who is married to singer-and-actress Mandy Moore - is delighted that his new album, 'Ashes & Fire', is already being hailed as the best of his career so far and he is pleased it has had a positive response because he had such a "nice time" making the record.
He said: "I'm glad that it's translating. I'm having a nice time and I had a nice time making the record.
"I'm more happy than I've ever been. I used to be panicked. Now I'm curious."
'Ashes & Fire' is released on 10 October.