Salvatori Productions 2022
Chicagoan six-stringer unfolds therapeutic tapestry and whisk one’s psyche away towards the great unknown.
Ever since Jimmy Ryan stepped on a solo path with “21st Century Riffology” in 2017, the intensity of his delivery seemed to be diminishing, leaving more room for nuance, and, as 2021’s "Astral Café" demonstrated, his grasp on stylistic boundaries deliberately loosened to increase the depth and breadth of the guitarist’s emotional sweep and render “The Healing Guitar” truly special, its spectrum of strum gripping the listener’s soul in many ways. Uniquely structured, it offers four numbers – deceptively simple yet intricate in their eloquent exquisiteness – before stitching these, plus a fifth one, cuts into a grandiose, if understated, tapestry and drenching the resulting suite in a delicate ambiance. What ultimately emerges out of such experiment, supervised by producer Tom Salvatori and featuring Dan van Schindel’s drums which add sympathetic accents to the flow, can’t fail but transform the aural spectator’s psyche.
The album’s opening pieces “Walden” and “Twilight” don’t attempt to build crepuscular and tender, albeit muscularly sculpted, momentum that’s often inherent in Ryan’s tunes, where electric caress and acoustic stroke interweave to create a feeling of constant drift into the heart of existential mysteries. Instead, as guitar tone fluctuates to reflect the strength of affection, the spellbinding effect grows in scope, almost imperceptibly enveloping the sonic space, and infusing the suspenseful “Alphaville” with aromatic tranquility, wooden percussion and six-string harmonies giving the track immense warmth, while the sounds of “Equinox” come across as robust – though slightly rawer, rougher – waves designed to divide and balance light and dark.
And then everything is illuminated in the five-part epic “Healing Guitar In Nature” that sees the resonant “Continuum” appended to the preceding instrumentals which, not segueing into each other, are wrapped in birds songs and interspersed with children’s voices and ocean’s roll to form a fantastic folk-rock elegy. It casts a different light on the entire record as its magical images, not requiring a single word, conjure up an incredibly wholesome atmosphere and shape up a fresh Jimmy Ryan chef d’oeuvre.