Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review -- LUKE RYALLS -- The City

THE CITY
Luke Ryalls
Pining for Our Records Records
9-out-of-10
When Luke Ryalls started playing harmonica on Swing Low, the lead cut on The City, I was immediately captured -- yes harmonica is a weak spot for me.
Still the harmonica work on the lead song caught my attention and got me focused on what Ryalls was doing as a musician.
On Myspace Ryalls slots himself into the acoustic/pop world, which means at times there are flavours of country, and in his case a lyric-writing style which obviously borrows much from the world of folk.
Ryalls, who comes out of Saskatoon, has been the singer in The Fjords for years, but this new release is his first solo effort.
Again his Myspace spot explains, “He picked up his old acoustic guitar, set up a studio in his creaky living room, and created The City, an intimate and intense record full of sparse, haunting ballads, thumping, grandiose landscapes, and sparkling, rootsy sing-alongs.”
All right that description might be a touch flowery, but the idea of haunting music certainly fits. That is just how I would describe The Snow Road, which I believe is the best song on the CD.
The same moodiness carries on through Halcyon Summers, which again is a wonderful piece.
Ryalls keeps the music simple, his acoustic guitar carrying the spotlight almost exclusively throughout. His voice borrows from the school of Dylan in its approach. Those two elements speak highly of what he is doing here.
Yet, the true strength of the music here lies in the lyrics. Ryalls is a poet who writes so that the mood of the song is transferred to the listener easily. You feel this guy’s music, and it says a lot about a musician when he can share the feelings which fire the music.
Standing Beside Us is one of the songs where the emption transfer is most easily appreciated. Blazer is another emotional gem. Both are simply excellent.
A definite disk to search out. Check it out at www.myspace.com/lukeryallsmusic
— CALVIN DANIELS

-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct. 28, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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