JIMMY RYAN – Astral Café

Ryanetics Music 2021

Astral Café

Celebrating twenty five years of flying high, Illinois master of infectious licks embarks on interstellar voyage.

This musician and his younger sibling Johnny have been prowling American stages, as THE FLYIN’ RYAN BROTHERS, from 1996 to 2011, and, one decade later, the former doesn’t seem to stop, “Astral Café” finding him soar solo on for the fourth time, and that’s quite a trip. The tunes, the sound or the attitude can take only you so far yet, packaged together, they produce a powerful effect. Coming across like Link Wray wrapped in 21st century sensibilities, Ryan often places his rumble ‘n’ riffs in the center of fusion filigree while keeping his sonic surfing firmly-but-loosely anchored to a bluesy core.

That’s why the leaden ebb and flow of “Crossroads” – the first roaring-vocal number in this largely instrumental brew, the other updated staple being the viscous-as-molasses take on Muddy’s “I’m Ready” – arrive rather unexpectedly, and if the Eastern-flavored “Berserker” should initially feel a tad superficial, it will get momentum, and the molten balladry of “Earthrise” is almost soul-shattering. The record may start in a very streamlined manner, Jimmy’s six-string harmonies beaming all over “Starlord” to propel the piece forward, and end in a serene way, when brother Johnny joins in on “Quiet Flight” with a second guitar, yet the album’s dynamics never fail to impress, as the main artist’s fluid licks and overdriven twang, spanked by his own bass and driven by Dan Van Schindel’s drums, are tangible throughout.

However, there’s a great contrast between cosmic funk of “Shatterbrain” that has alluring translucence to its melodic tangle, and the hard rock of “Black Ice” whose assault is demonically possessed, whereas the cover of Prince’s “Plectrumelectrum” is traveling in Jimmy Ryan’s hands to the edge of Jimmy Page’s “Moby Dick” and further on, into heavy psych territory before light country strands get woven into the heavy mix. Stull, the small epic “Celestial Voice” sees the American in progressive mode, singing his heart on the number dedicated to Neal Peart and featuring elegant time signatures which are typical for this player, though not for this platter. Such unpredictability doesn’t fail to charm, making “Astral Café” one of the most enchanting albums of the year – a milestone to gather no moss.


December 2, 2021

Category(s): Reviews
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