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Jimmy Ryan
LOST DIAMOND ANGEL
(Ambitious Recordings)
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Jimmy Ryanís first solo album comes almost two decades into a career thatís included stints fronting alterna-country forerunners the Blood Oranges and studio work with Morphine, Warren Zevon, and dozens of others. Heís proved to be a first-rate mandolin sideman, but Lost Diamond Angel confirms that heís more than capable of handling the frontman role. Backed by an ace line-up that includes Billy Conway, Dana Colley, Catie Curtis, and Duke Levine, Ryan mixes and matches Morphine-style low rock, trad bluegrass numbers, and hook-filled roots rock; itís all distinguished by his virtuoso mandolin playing, which is always front and center. The nimble bluegrass on "Face Up" and "Drunkerís Lament #7 or 8" should please traditionalists. But the overdriven sounds on "Iíve Got a Feeling" are more reminiscent of Crazy Horse than Ralph Stanley, and the bridge of "Hardtime" is filled with inventive wah-wah pedal heroics. The interplay between Ryanís mandocello and Colleyís saxophones conjures a gospel feel on the blues tune "Diamonds," one more example of Ryanís ability to encompass a broad range of styles without ever sounding studied or pedestrian.

(Jimmy Ryan appears with Twinemen, Orchestra Morphine, Dave Champagne, and the Ware River Club this Thursday, October 23, at the Middle East for a Mark Sandman Music Education Fund benefit; call 617-864-EAST.)

BY NICK A. ZAINO III


Issue Date: October 24 - 30, 2003
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