Nothing To Lose

Ricky Ray Band

Neurosis, 2007

http://www.rickray.net

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/24/2007

Led by guitarist Ricky Ray, this quintet is a mixed bag of blues-rock. When they are on the same page, playing interesting music together becomes first nature. It's the damn off-key vocals that get in the way toward the end of this release. Other times, when this music is not adequately though -out, the vocals raise the piece of music to an acceptable level.

Ray knows his way around the fretboard and that is demonstrated repeatedly. It's the vocal performance by Alex Abraham that will cause you to like or dislike this release. Things start out remarkably well on this long release (long, because four of the 12 tracks crack seven minutes).nbtc__dv_250

Beginning with the upbeat "There's Always a Catch" was a good choice. Its upbeat tempo is appropriate for introducing the band's sound to the listener. You immediately will notice that reedist Rick Schultz has a prominent part in this group, adding a counter-balance to the syncopated parts. They follow that track with a song written in 1970, "Back to the River," whose songwriting credit is given to "Damnation of Adam Blessing" and showcasing Ray's sense of when to play and when to let his rhythm section take over. His use of guitar synth on this track gives the track a Doors-y "Riders of the Storm" kind of feel, where the bass and drums are mesmerizing.

Things sail along without a lot of distress for quite a while. The ballad "Living in Sin" is slow and tender and contrasts with the other material. At the same time, it begins to show weakness in Abraham's vocals. He begins to sustain his notes for multiple counts in the measure and, well, it sounds wrong. It's not totally off-key, but it sounds wrong.

Then it's back to scorching blues-rock in "Standing in Harms Way" and "The Spirit of Fear." Both of these tracks are appealing with bassist Jack Ambrose louder in the mix and driving the songs as much as Ray's guitar riffing. Drummer Sam "PJ" Glorioso sounds more prominent with snare/tom fills under Ray's parts.

About the only misstep is "Hands of Circumstances," an awful song. Not only does Abraham sound off-key, the music from Ray is su-par. While Ambrose's funk bassline and Ray's guitar solo are intriguing elements, they don't counter-balance this dud of a track. "If We're Silent" and "Nothing To Lose" bring it back on track with Schultz's part back to complementing Ray's guitar.

There is a lot of music to enjoy on this release when the musicians are jamming, and overall the Ricky Ray band is an above average bluesy-rock band.

Rating: B

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