Friday, March 10, 2023

New Music: Ed Ryan, Chris Church, Stephen Lawrenson

Power pop is front and center thanks to a terrific trio of new releases from Ed Ryan, Chris Church and Stephen Lawrenson.

Ed Ryan
Title: A Big Life (Kool Kat Musik)
You might like if you enjoy: Matthew Sweet, Fountains of Wayne, Shoes, The Rudies
Tell me more: While it's not uncommon for modern-day artists to enlist dozens of co-writers and multiple producers to complete a single album, leave it to talented singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ed Ryan to write, sing, play and produce his outstanding album A Big Life all by himself. Fans of power pop and melodic rock will love the dozen-track album (his fifth release on the Kool Kat label). The euphoric opener "Settle Down" features a driving rhythm, stellar vocal harmonies and shining guitars. The buoyant "As I Am" also benefits from Ryan's great talents playing all the instruments, with the track bolstered by flashy multi-layered guitar lead solos that further define the original. "Lighthouse" is another nugget, somehow blending shimmering power pop and raucous garage rock during its irresistible run. While the tuneful rockers such as "Testify" and "Trial By Fire" are an obvious attraction here, Ryan also displays his knack for more acoustic stylings via the lovely "Wonder" (which features an especially marvelous electric guitar solo) and the Baroque ballad "The Dreaming Moon." A Big Life is set for release on March 17, and is available now for pre-order. Information:

Chris Church
Title: Radio Transient (Big Stir Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Chris Church, The Fixx, Wire Train, Tears For Fears
Tell me more: Radio Transient is a dazzling 10-track album, enhanced by Chris Church's superlative musical gifts, literate-minded songcraft and an '80s-minded retro spirit that is a perfect union with his towering melodic instincts. The hyper romp "GCRT" opens the album with an explosive sound that blends '80s alt rock and New Wave perfectly. The album's lead single "Going 'Til We Go" has a similarly-powered propulsion, but a more wistful melodic spark showcasing the Lenoir, North Carolina-based artist's great vocals; the song is adorned with shimmering rhythm and lead guitar textures. His songs each have a distinctive stamp to be sure. The spirited "I Don't Wanna Dance With Me," affecting "One More Chance To Get Over You" (the latter featuring some fine fret work from guest guitarist Bill Lloyd), dashing "Over and Out," Paisley Underground-flavored "Gotta Go, Gotta Ramble" and infectious "Far Too Late" are among the truly great originals on the disc. Radio Transient is set for release via audio CD and streaming services on March 24. Information:

Stephen Lawrenson
Title: Chants Of A Lifetime (Kool Kat Musik)
You might like if you enjoy: Big Star, Teenage Fanclub
Tell me more: Stephen Lawrenson's new album Chants Of A Lifetime really conjures up an era when top-tier songcraft, melody, experimentalism and distinctive vocals mattered. In fact, this great 10-song album (available now) draws natural comparisons with masterworks from Big Star, Todd Rundgren and Teenage Fanclub. Chants Of A Lifetime marks Lawrenson's first album since 2013's Obscuriosity; the new album was written and recorded between 2016 and 2022  a challenging time for the artist that included dealing with periodic bouts of writer's block, the death of his father, and the global pandemic. The inviting opener "Really Good" (featuring guest lead guitarist Rybo Lewan of Twin Strike fame) works with its creative mix of crunchy guitars, lovely vocals and rich keyboards. The yearning "In Circles" surprises with all types of glorious sonic layers and a potent lead vocal. "Blue Room" (with guest Beard of BeesRob Perez delivering stunning lead guitar work) is a dynamic and bewitching rocker; the beautiful acoustic folk rock gem "My Muse" recalls the magical approach heard on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's Déjà Vu. The parade of wonderful songs also includes the wistful "King of Sympathy," evocative rocker "Here & Now," enchanting "Streets" and sweeping "Last Song (Save Me)." Information:

Robert Kinsler

1 comment:

koolkat said...

Thanks Robert for the nice Ed Ryan + Stephen Lawrenson reviews! Very much appreciated!