Album review: RYAN MCGARVEY – Redefined

Ryan McGarvey Redefined

Forward In Reverse Music

Ryan McGarvey’s current album ‘Redefined’ actually came out last year, but it’s deservedly gaining extra attention because of his current debut UK tour.

He works in a trio format (with occasional keyboard parts) though you’d be hard pressed to realise that on an album full of sumptuous tones, a thoughtful production and a nicely distorted wall of sound that gives the music a psychedelic edge.

Ryan McGarvey is a guitarist who understands the importance of feel, tone and subtle dynamics. He evokes different moods and explores musical depth on smouldering grooves that fill the room with chiming tones, soaring arcs of sound and occasional catchy hooks.

He’s one part Bonamassa, one part Trower and occasionally Jonny Lang, but ultimately he moulds it all into his own style with a melodic drone-led sweep that fashions a plateau of sound over which he applies ascending guitar lines.

‘Starry Night’ is a great example, with an eastern influenced drone and a sweeping melody topped by a ripping solo, while ‘Blues Knocking At My Door’ is a contrasting slide-led, riff-heavy piece full of intense repeated notes and fierce soloing over extravagantly splashed cymbals.

His solos start like a restless mountain stream, and build up to an unstoppable mellifluous flow that sweeps you along like a river. The pulsating wah-wah reverb of ‘Prove Myself’ has the same effect. Ryan constructs a magnificent solo from the bottom up as bass player Sam Miller slips into a funky mode. It’s a perfect example of intuitive interplay and demonstrates Ryan’s innate ability to take a song up a notch on the back of a fluid guitar break.

‘Redefined’ is an album that brings fresh rewards with repeated listens. To the untutored ear, tracks like ‘All The Little Things’ might remind you of Bonamassa, but the mesmerising chiming guitars and rich tone colours are all his own. Similarly the melodic guitar motif, earthy vocal and catchy hook of ‘My Sweet Angel’ isn’t too far removed from Jonny Lang, but listen carefully to the intricate guitar work and wall of sound and you are hearing Ryan’s patented sound.

He switches from acoustic to electric on the Kenny Wayne Shepherd influenced ‘Blue Morning Night’.  It’s another slow burner that builds up unhurriedly on the back of Ryan’s jangling notes and confident vibrato.

This is an album with well structured arrangements that leaves no room for ambiguity as to when the solos will arrive, but when they do Ryan is inspired, switching tone colours as frequently as he changes guitars at his shows. Refreshingly the solos are an integral part of the song and melody.

Best of all is the psychedelic masterpiece ‘So Close to Heaven’ which employs a repeated, deep-toned motif and contrasting chimed notes that hook you and rarely let go. It’s simply a classic track with a broad musical sweep that cleverly evokes the song title and lifts the album to another level.

‘Redefined’ is an underrated independent release worthy of significant record company backing. It’s an album of real substance that demands repeated plays if only to bring the oxygen of publicity to a great band. **** ½

Review by Pete Feenstra


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