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Brian Ritchey

Bordeaux – 2015 (Barrelmaker)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Brian Ritchey

The latest from Nashville-based singer/songwriter Brian Ritchey (not to be confused with Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie) is a mix of alt.-country and folk rock with touches of '70s rock. The influence of The Band is evident, particularly in "Victory March," which not only stylistically recalls such tracks as "The Weight," but the line "Just getting by is the shape I'm in" seems to specifically reference "The Shape I'm In."

Loneliness is a recurring theme throughout as with the opening rocker "Hello Lonely Friends" and the ballads "I'm Not Gone" ("She keeps her loneliness tucked away safe in her hat") and "Haunting Me" ("Most everyone I meet/ I make 'em sad/Then I move on"). One of the highlights is the closing "This Old House" ("Seems all you've done in life is raise children/I know it's been at least three years since you smiled") on which Ritchey's vocals recall Irish folk-rocker Glen Hansard.

The strongest country track is "We're Just Wrong" which has an Eagles' feel to it. Elsewhere the '70s rock influence is evident on "Rest My Head" and "Playing the Part" with a Pink Floyd space rock ambiance. The mournful "Disease" begins as a piano ballad reminiscent of John Lennon's "Imagine" or "Love" before transitioning into guitar driven power pop.

Ritchey wrote all 11 tunes and is nicely supported throughout, particularly by Dave Coleman (steel guitar, electric guitar), Adam Beard (bass) and John Lancaster (keyboards). With Ritchey's solid compositions, strong vocals and stellar performances, "Bordeaux" is impressive.