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Ryan Spearman is on fire. His plaintive voice, poignant lyrics and remarkable instrumental abilities are the sparks that have set off the recent blaze of attention in his hometown of St. Louis, MO. Spearman, who’s recognized by the national music community as the fiery fiddler, vocalist, and founding member of the Colorado-based string band, High on the Hog, returned to the Gateway City in November, 2008 to take a break from relentless touring and to concentrate on his songwriting and solo performance. In February, 2010 he released Live at The Chapel, his first solo recording since 1999.
Live at The Chapel is a perfect snapshot of Spearman’s solo show which seamlessly blends traditional, mountain banjo songs, heartfelt original works, and classic Americana. Track one opens with the artist telling the audience that he’s going to be giving them, “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” and he delivers true on the promise. Last Chance and I Truly Understand are rustic, mountain banjo songs with haunting themes of lost love and restless ghosts. Sunday Morning and Broken Wing showcase Spearman’s lyrical sophistication and harmonica playing. Blind Boy Fuller’s blues masterpiece Walk My Troubles Away and the immortal DeLange/Alter collaboration Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans feature complex finger picking and jazzy chord voicings respectively. The crowd-pleaser Sugar in the Gourd closes the recording. Spearman’s distinctively rhythmic fiddling and clever original lyrics breathe new life into the old fiddle tune.
Live at The Chapel establishes Ryan Spearman as a vital new voice in folk music.
Overall Rating: 10
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