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Jimmy Ryan “Astral Café” (CD) Ryanetics Records/Grooveyard Records

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Guitarist extraordinaire Jimmy Ryan is finally following up his excellent “21st Century Riffology” CD of 2017. Jimmy is an outstanding player, mixing his blues-oriented with classic rock in the vein of Wishbone Ash, which was the first thing I came to think of when listening to the opening track “Starlord.” Killer melodic, instrumental, melodic guitar rock. “Scatterbrain” goes into a rhythmic, almost slightly fusion-oriented mode, with some brutal fuzz+UniVibe soloing. Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” cover is a groovy heavy riff rocker, quite different from any other version I’ve heard. Jimmy’s rough-edged vocals fit this track like a glove. “Earthrise” is a smooth instrumental melodic number that takes us on to “Skydance”, which continues the harmonious instrumental path, but with some significant, almost progressive passages which give the song a nice touch. “Black Ice” is a quirky riff piece, still melodic but adding another new flavor to the album. Jimmy rips it open with a nice wah solo. “I’m Ready” brings in the heavy artillery, and this one also has some fierce vocals from Jimmy. A kick-ass heavy rocker, indeed! “Dulcinea” again brings us back into melodic guitar territory, while “Berserker” sure does what it says. That track has a raw, almost King’s X: ish vibe, but Jimmy’s smooth lead guitar lays on top like a soft blanket. “Plectrumelectrum” kicks it into riff gear again, and it does have a certain Zeppelin vibe to it. A cool track, indeed, with some pretty wild guitar harmonies. The short but effective “Dreadhulk” takes us back into the detuned regions again but soon picks up the pace and delivers some cool harmony guitars. Drummer Dan Van Schindel makes good use of his toms in this one and the energetic vocal “Celestial Voice”, which made me think of Asia meets Wishbone Ash, with a pretty intense proggy mid-section and more kick-ass soling from Jimmy. The album closes with “Quiet Flight,” a pretty descriptive title for a song. A smooth melodic guitar solo opens this more than 8-minute long number, taking a short walk into fusion-land, in all a brilliant guitar album for fans of bands like vintage Wishbone Ash.

www.ryanetics.com

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