Ryan Kerr makes music that seems to constantly evolve as it’s in the process of playing. It moves and slinks effortlessly like the best kind of narrative. He definitely falls in the singer/songwriter category, yet he travels among the DIY punk scene like an elder statesmen. That’s to say he’s a well respected man, among both his peers and those that love his songs(and there are plenty that do.) Kerr is a storyteller. He unspools songs with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. Songs about love, relationships, and the everyday cycle we can all relate to. For as long as Ryan’s been playing music you’d think he would’ve put out a full-length album before now, but that’s not the case. He’s finally ready to give his friends and fans a proper LP. It’s called Live Well, and it was worth the wait.
For those who’ve seen this North Manchester resident play in a coffeehouse, basement, living room, or anywhere anyone has invited Kerr to play you’re used to seeing Ryan with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and his booming voice. On Live Well, which was produced by Kerr and Robert Lugo at Lugo’s DBB Records in Fort Wayne, IN, his songs are filled in with plenty of instrumentation; drums, percussion, Rhodes, organ, electric guitar and bass, and of course acoustic guitar. There’s still this organic punk rock vibe in his tunes, especially on album opener “Sattison Family Name”, where the song feels like a cross between The Hold Steady, Frank Turner, and a folksier Springsteen. “I Got A Son” pushes and shoves like an Irish wake at 2 am, before it slows to a hangover crawl. “Smoking Twilights And Sinkholes” has a slink and groove to it that even the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be happy with(back in 1991, anyways.) “Vessel Dust” is part dust devil stomp and cautionary tale that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early 80s Nick Cave record.
There’s still plenty of voice and guitar here, too. “Throwin Stones” is mainly voice and guitar with some great organ and bass ornamentation. “Five Friends” closes the album with what matters most, Kerr’s voice and his acoustic guitar. One of real musical treasures here is the excellent “Ballad Of A Lonesome Girl”. With electric bass, organ, drums, and electric guitar this track feels like it should be on the radio playing for all to hear. Backing vocals by Amara Gilraine only solidifies the belief that this song should be coming out of car radios and earbuds everywhere.
Live Well is a solid musical statement from Mr. Ryan Kerr. He’s waited to release this collection of well aged and seasoned songs till the time was right. The time is as right as ever. Head over to Bob Vila’s This Old House on February 28th for Live Well’s Record Release Show and grab a copy for yourself.
8.3 out of 10