Monday, August 29, 2011

Ryan Shaw's Exhilarating Debut Still Sounds Fresh

Listening to This is Ryan Shaw, the debut Columbia album of 26-year old Georgia soul singer was a revelation. Knowing nothing about him, and listening to him for the first time, I was blown away.

He is a young singer doing covers of Bobby Womack, Jackie Wilson and the Falcons, and featuring originals, as well as tough funky dance numbers that sound like Junior Walker classics and bringing the same gospel-rooted intensity to these performances that characterize the originals. One does not expect to hear many young deep soul singers emerging in this era of hip hop, but this album certainly was a wonderful discovery.

Shaw is not too shabby with his originals like the frenetic Nobody. Producers Johnny Gale and Jimmy Bralower contribute the solid, funky backing for these truly exciting performances.

Ryan Shaw performing at
2007Montreal International Jazz Festival
This is a most impressive debut and one will be watching him grow as a performer.

This review was originally published in the August 2007 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 296) and of course there are a number of other ‘nouveau soul’ acts out there today. I had the pleasure of seeing Shaw at the Montreal Jazz Festival festival in July 2007 and was in line with the performance. Sam Cooke struck me as a prominent influence on Shaw, especially from a terrific rendition of If I Had a Hammer.

Shaw’s album undeservedly never received the acclaim he was deserving of but has issued an EP In Between in 2009. The music on this is similarly styled but the material is all original with Shaw’s deep in the gut soul preaching matched by the solid functional support from his band. It is time for a fuller new release and hopefully receive a bit more attention.

I likely received my review copy of This is Ryan Shaw from a publicist or the label. I purchased a download of In Between.

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