Ryan Perry – High Risk, Low Reward
11 tracks/52 minutes
Ryan Perry has matured into a superb guitar player and artist with the release of his first solo album. Debuting in 2007 at 13 years of age with the Homemade Jamz Blues Band and then, as the youngest entry ever, taking second place in the International Blues Challenge, Perry shows his chops with some fine original songs and some covers played and sung with authority.
Ryan Perry is one of the three artists appearing in the current Ruf Records Blues Caravan; Whitney Shay and Jeremiah Johnson are also with Perry in the effort. This album was recorded by Ruf in Germany. Producer Roger Innis play bass in support of Perry here. Lucy Pipe is on the drums and Jeffrey Staten and Stefanie Bechtold provide backing vocals.
Perry sets up a cool, mid-tempo groove for the opening cut, “Ain’t Afraid To Eat Alone.” His guitar rings sweetly as he solos nicely in this cut about a relationship breaking up. “Homesick” follows, a cut about the lure of his home back in Mississippi. A stinging guitar solo is featured here. Next up is “Pride,” where Perry sings about his remorse in being prideful and losing the one he loves. He closes the song with another nice guitar solo. “A Heart I Didn’t Break” is a tune about loving one’s self before loving someone else. The song builds as Perry takes the listener home. “Why I Sing The Blues” takes BB King’s classic down a funkier path in a very interesting cover. He bends each note in tribute to King but the groove and approach is very cool and original. Perry’s guitar work is solid and well done. “One Thing’s For Certain” opens with some nice guitar riffs; it’s another slick and funky cut with a restrained and cool guitar solo to enjoy.
The title track is next, with a grungy and distorted sound. It is an interesting mix with a throbbing, hill country vibe. Well done! “Changing Blues” takes us down a different path, with a slow and somber cut about where the blues genre is headed. The pacing is reverently slow and respectful. “Oh No” begins with some blistering guitar that introduces a slow blues sung and played with passion and pain. Written by Wilson Blount, this is a another great new cut. Willie Dixon’s “Evil Is Going On” gets made over Ryan Perry-style with a modern, funky approach. A pair of fiery guitar solos and well-paced lyrics make this a winner. The album concludes with “Hard Times” as Perry again gives us some hill country guitar to savor. The lyrics about the struggles in today’s America are equally cool. The song builds and builds into a dervish of guitar and fuzz to drive the listener home.
Perry lets us explore his feelings about life, love and relationships here as he moves his music from the stuff from his Homemade Jamz Band to a darker and more poignant style. This more mature musician and his work is quite good; he is one of the leaders of a new generation of blues musicians who will move the blues along while remaining in touch and in synch with the roots of the music. I enjoyed this album and recommend it highly!