|GRAINNE RYAN "All The Money" (Self-Released)
If you're also a bit confused by the name: Grainne is a girl and we're supposed to pronounce it as "grawn-ya". Sounds good and is probably Irish, her parents were born and raised in the Southern part of that country. Grainne herself grew up in rural Ontario as the youngest of five children, there were generations of musicians before her in the family. At home she heard everything from Irish reels to AC/DC. A picture in the CD-booklet shows her at the piano, composing one of her first songs, only three years old! Grainne's first recording dates back to the same time-period: her own version of Beatles-song "Baby You Can Drive My Car".
Now -years later- she released her first CD "All The Money". An EP, according to the meowing of fellow critics. Well, seven songs add up to almost 29 minutes here and I've recently reviewed a couple full CD's with nine or ten tracks and only up to three minutes more worth of music. So this is a normal, short CD to me!
First thing I notice when I start listening, are the awesome arrangements! Beautifully framing Grainne's pretty voice, kinda like Sarah Harmer - a bit stronger. This is alt.country with a poppy touch and a whole lot of keys, but kept in balance and not plastering everything shut. Especially "Tree Frog" is done in a magnificent way, with banjo, pedal steel and great drumming by Corey Richardson. The last song "Unfold" is quiet, ending in sounds of cars passing by on the highway and proving that Grainne could also get away with an acoustic performance.
In the meantime she plays with well-known musicians, like Chris Brown on Rhodes, Hammond, clav, piano and Casio (Broken Social Scene, Bare Naked Ladies). Jason Mercer on bass and banjo (Ani DiFranco, Ron Sexsmith) and Drew Glackin plays pedal steel, electric guitar and bass, we know him from Tandy, The Silos and The Crash Test Dummies. I praised the production already, it was done by Lurch (The Guess Who, Fred Eaglesmith, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings). Quite an impressive list!
And the lyrics, coming with these memorable melodies? Grainne sings about "matters of the heart, the mind and the world outside", according to her bio. I sure like the way she does that! Let's end with a few stand-out lines... "Somewhere I heard, someone say / That Elvis lives with Kurt in a cabin / Not far from here" ("Tree Frog"). "Looks like this shit will never end / All kinds of people died again / But the economy is strong / It doesn't matter if it's wrong" ("All The Money"). "Souls and shoes can do a lot of walking / While others sit and dream and do a lot of talking" ("Souls And Shoes") or these loving words from "Unfold": "Your soul's been one of torture / But your heart it shines like gold / And as you crawl outside your shell / The beauty will unfold". Grainne wishes us: Peace, Love and Cleaner Air!
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, February 2007.