Janet Ryan

Janet Ryan
Mama Soul

CSP Records

By Lady K
August 2013

So Mama Soul made Lady K very happy. Janet Ryan, in addition to having a terrific voice, has a way with words when she writes her songs, and when other members of her band penned the tunes, they definitely knew her style - lyrics-wise. Well-known in the blues worlds of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, Janet Ryan (lead vocals, song writer), and her bands (yes – two – the Straight Up Band and a blend of members from the Dallas-based Crosscut Band), put together 12 original tunes, and one cover (“Woman be Wise,” by Sippie Wallace).

The rocking and rolling guitar, piano and organ make the listener sit up and pay attention on “He Burned that Bridge.” Turns out the titled “he” was a louse . . . “He got everything that he wanted, and then he burned the bridge while I was standing on it.” Male-bashing is allowed (encouraged!) in the blues. “What I Like Best” is a change of pace, in that it’s a slow, sexy love song, listing her favorite things: “Like my coffee black; will drink it right out of the pot / Give me a fire when it’s very cold / Love my silver – wanta grab some gold / and a big old glass of Padrone, but what I like best is you.”

One of Lady K’s favorite tracks begins with a terrific guitar/organ intro, leading into the slow-tempo’d, sad “Mr. Misery.” You want to feel sorry for this guy (everyone knows someone like this): “Bad luck won’t let him be, poor Mr. Misery / He’s the guy at the end of the bar, between two empty seats.” (Yeah, you know, THAT guy.) As I said, I love Janet Ryan’s way with words.

“The First To Say Goodbye” is another of my fave tunes, because there’s so much going on - Janet sounds Janis-like, there are backup vocals that add a big-band feel to this rocker, and a huge Hammond B-3 sound throughout. While it’s a surprise to find two tunes with similar titles on the same album, “Say Goodbye” is here, and it’s another rocker (and very danceable), with yummy guitar by Ray Chaput, and it’s yet another Lady K choice.

“Learn to Let it Go” is for slow-dancing and is a sad goodbye song: “You’re not the person that you used to be, if the love is gone, you can’t keep holding on / Any heart will mend, if you learn to let it go.” Even the sax (Jon Smith) is sad, sad.

Even more terrific lyrics in “Take Your Shoes Off;” it’s up-tempo, Chaput’s guitar and Joe Elliott’s Hammond in control, but still, the lyrics rule . . . “Wash your hands off, baby, when you come into my room, the smell of another woman just won’t put me in the mood / Take your shoes off, baby, when you walk across my floor, they been walking all over me, can’t take it no more.” The combination of Janet Ryan’s vocals, lyrics and her blues musicians, make Mama Soul a keeper.

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