Janet Ryan review…April 28, 2013…

JANET RYAN

MAMA SOUL

CSP RECORDS  1056

HE BURNED THAT BRIDGE–WHAT I LIKE BEST–TIRED OF TALKING–MR. MISERY–WHAT WAS I THINKING–THIS HEART OF MINE–FIRST TO SAY GOODBYE–LOVE HAS LEFT THE BUILDING–SAY GOODBYE–LEARN TO LET IT GO–WOMEN BE WISE–DESTINATION ANYWHERE–TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF

Altho her home is in the hills of Conway, MA, Janet Ryan traveled to Chicago as a young blueswoman, soaking up the sounds of Koko Taylor and Etta James, among others.  She struck out on her own with The Straight Up Band, making a living playing festivals and clubs up and down the East Coast.  After hearing her sing as a part of a documentary in 2012, CSP Records owner Jimmy Rogers couldn’t wait to sign her and release “Mama Soul,” thirteen tracks that let her big, brassy, soulful voice shine through.

 

As one listens to these cuts, the set comes at you like an old-school R & B revue.  Janet’s voice will remind you of Janis Joplin or Etta James, mixing blues with the R & B of the Stax and Motown eras.  The arrangements all feature wailing blues guitar, horns, and keys that all complement Janet beautifully, honed thru years of playing as a unit.

 

The material is predominantly band-composed originals, save for one ultra-cool cover.  The cuts let Janet’s powerhouse vocals weave tales of love in all shapes and shades.  Check out the opening cut, a soulful burner that spins a tale of a lover so cold that “He Burned That Bridge while I was standing on it,” featuring red-hot slide from Jerry Sartain and roadhouse piano from Chuck Mabrey.  She gets to the heart of the matter with another no-good lover, and she’s “Tired Of Talking,” preferring to hit the road instead.  Another tune set over a funky backbeat finds two lovers who “know it’s about to end,” just waitin’ to see who’ll be “The First To Say Goodbye.”  And, gettin’ out of a bad-news town has Janet headin’ to “Destination Anywhere,” featuring Jerry Sartain’s wah-wah workouts on the guitar.

 

We had two favorites, too.  A song of unrequited love is the minor-key, sax-and-organ-heavy “Love Has Left The Building.”  The set’s lone cover is a good one, as Janet lends a sultry touch to a sexy take of Sippie Wallace’s “Women Be Wise, and don’t advertise your man!”  Joe Elliot’s piano is a real hoot, and keeps this one authentic to the era in which it was written.

 

Janet’s vocals make you feel that she’s singing just for you.  She’s in total command of all the material on “Mama Soul,’ and is a brilliantly-captivating entertainer!     Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow

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