Ryan Joseph Anderson. Weaver’s Broom

Weaver’s Broom by Chicago’s Ryan Joseph Anderson is a perfect example of an outstanding album that arrives unheralded in the office, patiently awaits its turn on the player and then knocks out the listener with its excellence. Anderson was the front man for Chicago rock band Go Long Mule and when they disbanded last year he headed to Nashville to record this with Andijja Tokic, who has worked with the Alabama Shakes, producing. The end result is a near perfect listen with elements of Van Morrison and Lowell George woven into the soulful country sound. Anderson recalls Morrison vocally at times but it’s the stirring mixture of pedal steel, organ and guitars that summon up the Caledonian soul aspect of the album. This is most apparent on Before The War with the opening line “we were young before the war” alluding to Into The Mystic and another Morrison song, Wild Children. The song itself is a tender ballad with Anderson honey voiced over simple finger picked acoustic guitar and double bass. The title song finds Anderson channelling Morrison’s vocal style (late sixties version) as the songs swells from country blues to a minor squall of guitars and pedal steel while Mission Bell would sit well on Morrison’s Veedon Fleece album.

The album isn’t however a Morrison by numbers affair. The opening Crooked Heart is a tremendous country rock ballad with bar room piano and elegant pedal steel as Anderson’s fine vocals are supported by fine harmonies from Jen Donahue. When The Bees Went Mad opens with a clatter of drumsticks and twang guitar before Farfisa organ weighs in with the overall effect being that of a sparkier Los lobos. Jericho is the song that recalled Lowell George for us, not so much the playing which is quite Anglicised, at times reminiscent of Nick Drake or early John Martyn, but for the lyrics and Anderson’s phrasing of the refrain, Blow Your Horn Home. George is brought to mind again on Leave Me In The Middle although this time it’s the band’s playing which recalls the easy funk of Little Feat. Wandering Apparition takes us back to Jericho territory with the guitar/organ combination firing sparks off of each other. Fortune And Fate is a fine old fashioned swing through Southern soul territory with the band firing on all cylinders.

Throughout the album, John Estes on bass, keyboards and pedal steel and Dave Racine on drums provide sterling work while Jen Donahue is excellent as a vocal foil for Anderson’s laid back singing. All in all it’s a great album, understated and soulful while Anderson’s writing and in particular his voice lifts it up into the upper echelons..

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Fortune and Fate from Ryan Joseph Anderson on Vimeo.

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