Sherry Ryan’s Sister of Mine is a record to fall asleep to at the cabin. The eleven songs on Ryan’s third album, clocking in at a fairly short half hour, have an old-timey gospel-country feel to them, painting pictures of loneliness and resilience in digestible fragments.
“Blue Ridge Mountains,” the opening track, is a good indication of the structure of the album as a whole, with a real care for nostalgic details (“At night, you hear the rivers / They run like buffaloes”), and the moody temperament of drawling country singers – you know, before they wore ripped-up jeans and were just rock stars in disguise. Sister of Mine harkens to the country and western genres of the sixties and seventies, a stripped-down channelling of Patsy Cline or Connie Smith, telling stories over steel guitar wails and piano melodies.
Sister of Mine isn’t for everyone, and it’s not an upbeat collection for dancing. There are no drums and only subtle production flourishes, no big choruses or melodic hooks, just a soulful voice that can open a song with the lyric “You’re shit out of whisky, and I’m shit out of luck,” and make it sound authentic. And that’s the point – Sherry Ryan speaks like an old soul, and that even comes across on the original instrumental “John Dawe’s Gone to Sea,” where the song feels more like a recital piece that would be played in a cozy kitchen that has a picture of Joey Smallwood tacked up somewhere.
Sherry Ryan’s latest is a comfortable – if frequently melancholic – listen with a clear musical direction, dipping into different pots but never straying too far from the honky-tonk core of the record. As much as Sister of Mine is a subdued nod to country music’s past, one of the final tracks, “Moving On,” is all about progressing forward. Musically, the album doesn’t reach any new plateau of innovation, but its personal lyrics transport the arrangements to the here and now.
Either way, Sister of Mine is still a disc that will reverberate with fans reminiscing about country’s golden era. Fitting for the intimacy of the album, the official release will be held at the LSPU Hall on Saturday, December 10.
<a href=”http://sherryryan.bandcamp.com/track/all-night-train” mce_href=”http://sherryryan.bandcamp.com/track/all-night-train”>All Night Train by Sherry Ryan</a>