Review by Steven Stone
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CD Stock Number: WaxySilver Records WS004
I'm a big fan of un-slick, direct acoustic
music. Mathew Ryan's new release Concussion is just that. This is
country music in the mold of Steve Earle, not Garth Brooks. Ryan's music has
the grit of rural red dirt, not the glint of Nashville rhinestones.
Ryan is aided by Richard McLaurin on pedal steel, acoustic guitar, and
percussion, Clay Steakley on bass, Craig Kampf on drums, David Henry on
cello, Park Ellis on harmonica, and Ray Kennedy on Harmonium. Lucinda
Williams, the queen of alt-country, adds duet vocals to
"Devastation" while Mark Starks contributes to "Somebody Got
Murdered". As you might surmise by the album and song titles mentioned,
there's not much in the way of demulcent ditties in the Cowsills vein here.
Most of the subject material is grimmer than a rusty hypodermic needle.
"Somebody Got Murdered" sounds like Tom Petty in a narcoleptic
haze. Good 'though. Sonically Concussion keeps it clean as it dallies
in the dumps. Acoustic guitars blend well with cello and pedal steel,
retaining their individuality as they meld with the other instrumental
parts. While certainly not a sonic blockbuster, Concussion keeps it
organic and real.
Concussion has about as much chance of getting airplay on hot country
and hip rock stations as Tiny Tim singing Mahler. But just because it ain't
mainstream doesn't mean it's worthless. Concussion has an honesty and
forthright musicality that is appealing despite its bleak world-view and
demeanor. Give it a listen, but not right after your divorce comes through,
Sound Quality: 90