by Simon Hill
Ask most A & R people and they would tell you to open an album with a catchy, short and sweet song to grab the listens attention. Mary Lydia Ryan, must never have been given that advice as she begins her self-titled debut with the epic, 7 minute opus "Farewell Ophelia". That said, if you stick around and listen, you will find a beautiful song slowly emerge, one worthy of repeated listening.
The comparisons to other female vocalists such as Tori Amos, Kate Bush or Sarah McLachlan are pretty obvious, but as the album moves on and Ryan is joined by more musicians, more subtle influences can be noted. John Schussler's violin, featured on "Bleeding" (among others) is very reminiscent of Billy Currie of British electro-rock pioneers Ultravox, while their is probably some Cowboy Junkies in Mary Lydia's record collection.
Not everything on the album works however, on "I Know" and "The Kiss" the grating Tom Waits wannabe vocals of 'Christopher' (just the one name, so he must be famous....), add absolutely nothing to the songs while detracting from Ryan's delicate tones.
Ryan demonstrates her impressive vocal talents on the soaring "Tale Of The Cherub" and it is the more intimate tracks like "Skeleton" and "Wildflowers" that have the most impact.
The album closes in a similar vein as it began, with the poignant "Artificial Children" which discards the backing band in favour of Ryan's solo piano, giving room for an emotionally charged vocal performance.
Overall, this is a wonderfully promising debut from the Seattle based singer/songwriter, with a little more emphasis on herself and not on the guest musicians, it could be great. We look forward to hearing a lot more from Mary Lydia Ryan in the future.
"Mary Lydia Ryan" Reality Records RR/MLR001
For more information contact:
Tim Killian, eVenture Communications
Or visit the Mary Lydia Ryan website: http://www.eventure.com/mlr
Simon Hill is Editor of Menagerie CyberZine.
Return to the Reviews or the Main Index