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Irish Times - Nov 12'

Whisperin' & Hollerin' Review - Jan 13'

Hotpress- Dec 12'



love and punishment
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The Ticket Review - Irish Times - May 09'

Whisperin' & Hollerin' Review - April 09'

Totally Dublin Review - June 09'

Evening Echo Review - April 09'


love and punishment
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Whisperin & Hollerin - live at De Barra's - March '07

Connected review - August '06

Whisperin & Hollerin review - June '06


The Irish Times , Nov 12, Gavin ryan - Time review

He's forged his reputation on solid blues, but Gavin Ryan ventures towards wider horizons on his third album. The heavyweight voice has evolved since his last studio foray. Now he’s deploying it in the service of a mood that’s more David Lynch and Twin Peaks, with an unexpected weakness for tracing the bold outlines of cabaret on occasion.


Top hats, sailors’ laments, drowned sorrows and a healthy fear of the grim reaper: life’s rich tapestry is writ large and small on Ryan’s 10 original songs. Brian Connor again lends ballast on fender rhodes, piano and Hammond organ, but on Time the spaces are wide open in a Panavision kind of way.

Cinematic in scope, there are occasions when it seems Ryan’s got his tongue planted in his cheek. But the overriding tone is one of wistful reflection.

Siobhan Long


Whisperin & Hollerin, Jan 13, Gavin ryan - Time review


GAVIN RYAN’S ‘difficult’ third LP arrives on the back of two remarkable outings, 2006’s ‘Broken Blues’ and 2009’s ‘Love And Punishment.’ 


The first was a truly mature affair: a classy troubadour’s debut straddling blues, soul and Americana, with the range to take in everything from jazzy, afterhours laments (‘She’ll Soon Come Running Back To Me’), amped-up rockers (‘E-Mail To A Girl In Santa Barbara’) and the gorgeously fragile ‘Tenderness.’ Recorded at Dublin’s famous Windmill Lane, ‘Love And Punishment’, meanwhile, was a satisfyingly confident follow-up, with Ryan’s acrobatic voice in viciously good nick; proving willing and able whether tackling steaming rockers (‘Lonesome As A Cloud’), beguiling balladry (‘Sweet Santa Cruz’, the Van Morrison-esque ‘Sadie’) or the more arcane likes of the Tom Waits-ian ‘Midnight Blues’.


Both were gloriously realised records full of daring, though in both cases, the listener never quite knew where Ryan would be headed next. As it turns out, Kinsale-based Dubliner’s third is something of a retreat to gentler, more intimate pastures, but that shouldn’t be mis-read as a loss of quality in any way, for after a few plays ‘Time’ (housed in an attractive sleeve with artwork by Siobhan Waldron) reveals itself to be the third mightily fine LP to bear the name Gavin Ryan.


Recorded primarily with a tight, accomplished but never obtrusive trio of drummer Ross Turner, bassist Shane Fitzsimons and long-time keyboard foil Brian Connor; ‘Time’ has all the hallmarks of a real grower. Matched by a supremely earthy vocal, the prowling, dirty blues of ‘My Baby Don’t Care For Me’ is arguably the closest thing in spirit here to ‘Love And Punishment’, though the tense ‘Living For Today’ (“They say some people sink, some people swim/ well, I’ve drowned my sorrows deep in my drink”) again finds Ryan walking a familiar emotional tightrope.


For the most part, though, ‘Time’ plays out its subtle, under-stated seduction. Caressed by an exquisite yearn of a vocal, brushed drums and flecks of glockenspiel, ‘Loser (Prologue)’ sets the scene for a series of stately, melancholic outings such as ‘Spend Some Time On Me’, the sparse, waltz-time ‘I’ll Be Home’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Die’ which – remarkably – sounds as naked and vulnerable as its title.


It’s not all languid introspection however. ‘Fast Girl’ is a jaunty, love at first sight stroll; ‘Stay With Me’ – with its balalaika-style rhythm and Gallic flavour - is truly heady and the jazz-tinged soul of the closing title ensures the listener is again left pondering where this singularly talented, but shockingly under-valued performer will strike out once the credits have stopped rolling.


Hotpress , Dec 12, Gavin ryan - Time review


With a voice unlike that of Jack L, Gavin Ryan is nothing if not versatile. Here he glides effortlessly from the lush melodic pop of opening track ‘Loser’ (which recalls Richard Hawley’s output) through the bluesy ‘My Baby Don’t Care For Me’ to the folk orientated ‘I’ll Be Home’.

Elsewhere on this Gavin Glass-engineered and mixed album, he showcases a diverse approach. ‘Fast Girl’ is a plucky, upbeat tune with a melody recalling the early ‘60’s hit ‘Hey Baby’. ‘Rehabilitated Loon’ is unsettling as is the waltz-like, ‘I Don’t Want To Die’. Other highlights include Spanish–flavoured ‘Spend Some Time On Me’ and the country-ish ‘Living For Today’.

The Plaintive title track is more classic early pop in the mode of Ricky Nelson’s ‘Lonesome Town’ or the Everly Brothers ‘All I Have To Do is Dream’. Enjoyable.

Colm O'Hare


The Ticket / Irish Times , May 09, Gavin ryan - Love & Punishment review

All the stock ingredients are here: two-bit losers, intractable blindness, errant hookers and a Waitsean pursuit of life's dark, enthralling underbelly. But Gavin Ryan's blues is born and bred in Dublin, drenched in a bass growl that's (strangely) two parts Richard Thompson, one part Nick Cave.

On Ryan's second CD moods shift uncomfortably in their lizard-skin shoes. A quite charisma radiates from the
bare-boned 'A Beautiful Girl' and the urban decay of 'Midnight Blues.'

His cavernous voice may still have some miles to go to make it truly his own, but with Brian Connor on co-production this is a marvellously focused collection.

Siobhan Long



Whisperin' & Hollerin'. April 2009. - Our Rating: 9/10. By Tim Peacock.

We're so busy trying to bag the interchangeable Next Big Indie things that the really special catch can easily slip through the net these days. Often simply because they don't conform to the (increasingly conservative) prevailing trends.

So it's hugely refreshing to discover a performer like GAVIN RYAN kicking so gloriously against the pricks. Armed with a voice like a stunning alliance of Ray LaMontagne and prime era Paul Rodgers, this young Dubliner comes brandishing a bulging bag of earthy blues, tender balladry and compelling arcana and his second album 'Love And Punishment' throws the anaemic efforts of the headline grabbers likes of Snow Patrol into even sharper relief.

Ryan's 2006 debut 'Broken Blues' was a fine record, but its' follow-up is in another league altogether. Recorded predominantly live in the studio (Dublin's famous Windmill Lane) with a band capable of both enormous restraint and sizzling sonic overload and visiting all points in between, it's exhilarating from wall to wall and – if there's any justice left at all – really ought to introduce its' author to a far wider audience.

Significant portions of 'Love And Punishment' rock significantly harder than anything from 'Broken Blues'. Opening duo 'Baby I Was Right' and 'G-Jam Blues' really cook with gas. Both swagger along, riding bumper grooves with charisma to spare, while Derek O'Connor's magnificent sax on 'G-Jam Blues' adds an anthentic Southern Soul sucker punch. 'Lonesome As A Cloud' is arguably even better, with the band building an ominous crescendo for over two minutes before drummer Steve Davis's snare finally batters its way in and an electric storm pours down all over the song.

Ryan's voice has already been displaying an awesome guttural majesty, but it's on the esoteric delights of songs like 'Midnight Blues' and 'Roadhouse Blues' where he really excels. 'Midnight Blues' is a Tom Waits-ian slice of swamp brilliance, riding a wonked and diseased groove around Rod Paterson's jazzy double bass and Davis's junkyard percussion. The visceral slash of the Wilko Johnson-style guitar figure is a nice counterpoint, but its' Ryan's unearthly growl that really pulls you up short. He sounds a lot closer to Clarksdale than Clontarf on 'Roadhouse Blues' too. Despite the title, it's certainly not a Doors cover, and its' vivid lyrical splurge (“bitch on a leash, powder black sky, scattered a' winking stars”) is almost Beefheartian in design.

Wonderful though all these songs are, though, the album's heart really lies in its' ballads and there are several truly breathtaking moments along the way. This writer recalls 'Sweet Santa Cruz' vividly from the two shows he's seen Ryan perform and it's equally captivating on record, with the band's restrained performance, Brian Connor's sweet bleed on organ and one of Gavin's finest vocals all bang on the money. Equally showstopping are the jazzy, around-midnight creep of 'Sad Brown Eyes' and the lush, Van Morrison-style balladry of 'Sadie' where sessioneer extraordinaire Bill Shanley's spectral pedal steel is the perfect foil for Ryan's poised and mature vocal.

Whether white men can really sing the blues is usually a question which would draw a categorical 'No!' from this writer, but in Gavin Ryan we have one of those truly rare exceptions who can buck the trend with authenticity to spare. As the title suggests, 'Love And Punishment' proffers both the sweetest of caresses and merciless emotional bloodletting, but it's never less than wholly compelling and its' aim is always true

Tim Peacock

Read Review on Whisperin' & Hollerin website | click here | link opens in a new window


Totally Dublin, June 09, Gavin Ryan - Love & Punishment review

Remember when voice-of-an-angel / face-of-a-mountain goat internet sensation Susan Boyle stepped onto the Britain's Got Talent stage and shocked the living bejaysus out of a load of insufferable media whores? The shock I got when I heard the deep-rooted, gravelly vocals of Gavin Ryan was probably something similar: "Irish men can't sing the blues," I thought, "'cept for Rory Gallagher, but he was a present from God." Turns out i was wrong.



Evening Echo, April 09, Gavin Ryan - Love & Punishment review

So here we are in 2009 and there’s a Dub and he’s jammin’ and he’s slammin’ and he’s rammin’ home the blues like it’s 1959 and he’s hanging out
in a smoky joint in Detroit with the godfathers of soul themselves. And he’s white. Go figure.

Maybe those old souls have taken over this host, yet if that’s the case we don’t need no excommunication here — let him belt out the devil’s music! The ballads are where he excels, with Sweet Santa Cruz one of those simply, beautiful numbers, the type Bob himself made sound so easy early on his career. But Gav here has a better voice: Strong, powerful, full of emotion. There is a sense though that his best asset may be his enemy too, like Jack L he don’t wanna get known for his voice alone you understand. But he can string a song together, like on A Beautiful Girl and Sad Brown Eyes, which speak more than their lyrics, speak to the place deep down their deep inside. Soul, that’s what it is.

Kieran Dineen

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'Clonakilty, De Barra's Folk Club, 24th March 2007' Gavin ryan - Broken Blues review

Serendipity can sometimes be an important ingredient where rock'n'roll's tastiest dishes are concerned.   On his birthday last year, for example (don't you dare ask me what age it was) your reviewer popped along to catch Cork's tremendous Stanley Super 800 play at this very venue. As it turned out, the support was one GAVIN RYAN: a young Dubliner with a voice capable of eating Nick Cave for breakfast and an affinity with the blues seemingly unfeasible for such an apparently unassuming young man.


Ryan and his talented backing group then proceeded to knock this writer's socks off with an all-too-brief 45-minute support slot and your suitably wide-eyed reviewer later departed with a CD copy of Gav's debut album 'Broken Blues' under his arm. Unsurprisingly, the album - recorded with the cream of Dublin's sessioneers such as guitarist Bill Shanley and bassist Nick Scott - didn't disappoint and within a few days W&H was carrying a lengthy appraisal and its' reviews editor had earmarked Ryan as an artist he must catch when he ventured this way again


In the end, it took eight months for Gavin and his talented trio to make their way back down to Clonakilty and from the outset it was clear it was going to be a strange night, not least because De Barra's - outwardly famous as the West Cork venue frequented by the late Noel Redding for many years - appears to be inadvertently re-inventing itself as THE Hen Party meeting point of choice. Tonight alone there are three Hen do's, two stag parties and a 21st vying for attention with the band. 

To say the audience is 'colourful' is something of an understatement and your reviewer is singularly unsurprised when he gets assailed by a bloke with a ball and chain around his leg and Batman comes up to shake hands before the band come onstage. Curiously, he seems rather pissed-off when I ask where Robin is. Huh. Clearly, superheroes ain't what they used to be anymore, eh?


So it's just as well that there are still a few performers out there we can rely upon to be brilliant - even when they're confronted by a largely pissed-up bunch of punters out to attain nirvana/ oblivion (delete as waywardly applicable) in any way they can get it providing it involves copious amounts of alcohol. And, despite everything negative surrounding them tonight, Gavin Ryan and band surely fall into this category.

Wisely choosing to limber up with a few choice Rn'B covers (I'm talking rhythm'n'blues here, not Missy Elliott for the uninitiated), Ryan and co. find their feet quickly and get a sizeable portion of the crowd on their side, even if security do end us escorting Manacle Man away from his centre-stage position and Batman's chat-up lines appear to be failing dismally. They then dig into their set proper with an adrenalised version of album opener 'On The Line' and - after Gav disappears to re-string his guitar and the band have skilfully busked some Nina Simone - a double whammy involving the intricate and truly lovely 'Sweetest Thing' and a potent new tune called 'When The Heart's On Fire.'


Charismatic from the outside, Ryan's stage presence and confidence has come along in leaps and bounds over the past few months and he's comfortable enough to lose his guitar for the swoony late night blues of 'Sad Brown Eyes' early on in the set. It's a great showcase for his fantastic, resonant voice and shows he can embrace tenderness and delicacy just as effectively as he can cast a bucket down the Tom Waits-ian blues well to divine gutbucket vocal takes on tunes like the exciting back-to-back newies 'Roadhouse Blues' and 'Midnight Blues'. And no, you're not seeing things: the first one IS called 'Roadhouse Blues' and it's nothing to do with The Doors.

With its' tom-heavy backbeat, it's equally terrific, though. Ryan's band, meanwhile, are inspired all night. Although his rhythm section tonight are technically only on loan while his regular pairing are occupied elsewhere, they play like they've lived these songs for years. Keyboard player Kieran Quinn, though, is surely the lynchpin, and songs like 'On The Line', the gloriously sad and resigned 'Before The Money Runs Out' and a sublime Dylan-with-The-Band-style 'Carolina' are all imbued with the notable grace and danger of his piano. The flexibility the trio bring to the table also ensures Ryan can let loose and make the stage his own, not least when he tackles songs like 'Sad Brown Eyes' or 'Carolina' where he shows he knows a thing or thirteen about blues harmonica playing.


The set is generously stuffed with hugely-impressive new material. 'Sad Brown Eyes' and the powerhouse pairing of 'Roadhouse Blues'/ 'Midnight Blues' aside, there's also room for the gorgeously inviting Burritos-style country canter of 'Sweet Santa Cruz' (hit single in reserve! - ed), the Wordsworth-via-John Lee Hooker blast of 'Lonesome As A Cloud' and a couple more I can't recall the titles of. They're already settling beautifully in, though, and becoming great friends with the full-tilt forearm smash of 'Broken Blues' which is steroid-ed up and features a solo from Quinn which has to be heard to be believed.


By the time they're finally winding down, most of the revellers are beginning to depart, but Gav and co. mop up beautifully with a superbly-weighted Ray Charles cover and a suitably brittle and lovely 'Eskerrik-Asko' which both completes the album and performs a similar task tonight.   It proves a suitably emotional ending to an evening where anyone caring about artistic excellence went away hugely satisfied against steep aesthetic odds. Beaming, W&H depart to discover that someone's let Batman's tyres down and he's being forced to queue for a nightclub down the street. Huh. Like I said: superheroes clearly ain't what they used to be. Just as well we can rely on saviours in other areas, isn't it? 

By Tim Peacock


Connected, Issue 18, August 200, Gavin ryan - Broken Blues review


Sometimes music is more heartfelt when it is created spontaneously, naturally, and without extravagant alteration - this theory is certified by Broken Blues. Recorded over a mere three days in Dublin’s Cauldron Studios, every chorus is dripping with sincerity, every instrument played with genuine passion. Unquestionably, Ryan’s debut is a true accomplishment. His voice is deep and commanding, and sings of high romance in a tender and affectionate manner which tends to imply that he’s a wise head on young shoulders.

‘Before the Money Runs Out’ is hopeful yet solemn, and a loved one is encouraged to ‘give me one of those smiles / before the money runs out’ in this lyrically charming piece. Previously available through the internet and in Road Records, Broken Blues goes on general release this month, and about time too. Experience Ryan’s charisma for yourself, and you can’t help but appreciate his endeavours.


Whisperin & Hollerin review - June '06, Gavin ryan - Broken Blues review


Your reviewer recently caught a fine show from young Dublin-based singer/ songwriter GAVIN RYAN on his first foray to West Cork to promote the release of this, his debut album “Broken Blues” (available through ). Ryan and his fiery trio gave their 45 minutes absolutely everything and threw in several excellent new songs which suggest he is already thinking beyond this record, yet this burst of feverish creativity still couldn’t disguise the fact the band were doing this on a shoestring and crashing on peoples’ floors as they made their way around the country.


“Broken Blues”, though, suggests that – if any justice prevails – Gavin Ryan oughtn’t to be doing the dues-paying routine indefinitely. It’s an album which immediately stakes his claim as a mature singer/ songwriter, whose muse has arrived fully-formed and fabulous and a record which should cement his reputation as a roots-y troubadour of some repute.


The album opens promisingly with “On The Line”: a blues-y, smoky affair with a fleeting hint of Dylan and The Band. The recording is very live, with whirring organ and Brian Connor’s sublime piano playing complementing Ryan’s commanding voice perfectly. It’s succeeded by the distinctly jazzy “Soon She’ll Come Running To Me”, which has a truly early hours feel, and while it’s superficially mellow, it finds Ryan viewing love through the bottom of a glass darkly (“teardrops slide down a whisky glass/ I was knockin’ ‘em down in some jazz bar downtown/ ‘cos I was feeling blue just for you”) and ends up sounding scarred and cracked.


Good start, but the album really kicks off with “Carolina.” One this writer had earmarked from the live set, it opens with a memorable, Beatloid piano motif before slipping into a poised, Ryan Adams-style canter with organ and lots of great, wheezy harmonica. It’s one that grips you from the off, as does the subsequent “The Sweetest Thing”: a sparse and alluring two-step with a graceful and understated feel that suits the emotionally-charged atmosphere.

It’s not all downbeat and introverted, of course.


The wired “E-mail To A Girl In Santa Barbara” cranks up the Marshall Stack in no uncertain terms; “One Night Affair” is a full-blooded Cuban-influenced outing with romance, temptation and mystery hanging heavy in the air and a wide-eyed Ryan admitting “she took me out for the night and showed me things I cannot describe” while “Broken Blues” itself describes the feeling of too many mornings after too many nights before to near perfection. It’s not without some wry humour, either, and when Ryan sings “I been starin’ at her legs, but they’re lookin’ like a pair of trees” it’s difficult to stifle a guffaw.


The album’s closing stretch, though, jealously hoards two of Gavin’s finest moments thus far. “Far, Far Away” is again built around Brian Connor’s piano and is patient and full of longing, not to mention featuring arguably Ryan’s best vocal performance, but it’s topped by the wonderfully sparse and haunting “Tenderness” where an all-too tangible sense of loss and sorrow is kissed by gentle finger-picking and drifting lap steel. It’s hymnal and fragile and perhaps the best song he’s recorded to date.


But then this album is refreshingly devoid of weakness and stands as a tremendous introduction to an exciting young performer we will surely come to cherish in the near future. His live set suggests there’s much more to come of this calibre, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: “Broken Blues” is heady, emotional and a dark night of the soul you’ll continue to enjoy long after the sun has come up again.

Tim Peacock