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Charley Ramsay
Catalyst

Review By Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
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  After listening to Charley Ramsay's new album Catalyst, I thought for a moment about his vocals. The first thing that came to mind was that he must be influenced in some way by Tom Waits and Lou Reed because he sounds like both of them combined. Therefore, I asked Charley if he listened to both artists and he said, "My influences most included songwriting styles of local Austin Bands in the 90s I think. I also like old country songwriter's in the vein of Jerry Jeff Walker." Ok so there is proof, just because an artist sounds like someone does not mean that they are influenced by them or listens to their music. So much for making assumptions based on what you hear as an individual listener. Thank you Charley for giving me an entirely different perspective on evaluating an artist and their work.

Check out this tidbit-He wrote most of the material for Catalyst while commuting to and from work using his truck's CD player, a harmonica, pocket voice recorder and a blackberry to jot down lyrics. Now how is that for a creative ingenuity and using your time wisely with the help of modern technology? I love indie artists that always find a way to follow their muse and get the job done…it inspires me every day. To coincide with his creative methodologies, the first track is titled "Ride" and Ramsay opens with "There's terror on the TV and the house is a mess, you can't live forever you can't win a rest." If you are typical working parent that one line sums up your state of affairs quite nicely. It does not always apply but I found it strikingly spot on and a great way to kick off the album. This sets the table and the artist builds his storylines from that one song. It is fun listening to it unravel around the rock, blues and folk layers of music. In this case, the music and the lyrics are equally important and it all sounds right.
Ramsay has an engaging style in both presentation and stylistically. His voice is in between a roughshod whiskey soaked bluesman and an American roots rocker. This is a nice fit and a charismatic middle of the road intonation that really works well for him while expressing the lyrics built around the music. The artist plays the national dobro, the acoustic guitar and keyboards on the recording with plenty help from his friends, who do a nice job of supporting all of his work.

Interesting enough the "Intro", is the last track, not the first, leaving the door wide open for the next chapter perhaps? It is a nice little acoustic picking foray and actually a great way to close out the album.

I did not hear any weaknesses that distracted me or took anything away from the experience found in the 13 tracks presented on this CD. At first, I thought that the exception would be the vocals, but after several listens, I got into a zone and then could understand how all the moving parts became one musical machine driven by the introspective and at times humorous vocals and lyrics of Charley Ramsay. It is apparent he learned well from his influences and this turns into a Catalyst for a great recording career if he chooses to continue.

 

 

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