Mick Ryan and Paul Downes: Away in the West

I have long been a fan of Mick Ryan, who previously was teamed with Pete Harris, who provided sensitive backing for Mick’s songs. On this album we find Mick paired with Paul Downes, who also comes with a revered reputation on his own. So it was with some excitement I popped the disc in my CD player, as this was the first time I had heard them together, even though this is their second album.

Mick Ryan has developed into quite a prolific songwriter and has indeed written a few themed folk operas. So it’s no surprise that this album is full of original material. In fact Mick writes all but one of the tracks. For the most part, the songs are written in traditional style with tunes that fit well with the only traditional song on the album, that being ‘Greenland’ – a song I haven’t heard a lot since the days of Jones Ale folk club in the 60s.

I have seen and heard Mick Ryan sing live on several occasions, and marvelled at the silky quality of his voice. Mick is just a vocalist, or at least I have never heard him play any instrument when performing. The instrumental accompaniment is left to Paul Downes on the acoustic guitar, banjo, mando-cello, bass guitar and the all important harmony vocals, which he does very well. Guest musicians Jackie Oats (5-string viola) and Paul Hutchinson (accordion) join them on various tracks. The instrumentation is tastefully held back, allowing the voice to carry the songs. I am sure any of Mick Ryan’s’ fans will buy this album and won’t be disappointed.

The album is recorded and produced by Doug Bailey at Wild Goose studios. He is very skilled, and has a knack of capturing his artists as they really are, particularly the vocals, using the minimum of EQ and reverb.  Doug has done a fine job and should take a bow.  

You can buy the album online at Wild Goose Records.

I suggest you do just that.

(Wild Goose Records, 2010)

Note: Mick Ryan has been reviewed on GMR before, but with Pete Harris.

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