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CD REVIEW: The Kieran Ridge Band - Nothing Left To Lose
By Kevin Zarnett - 01/24/2006 - 05:42 PM EST

Artist: The Kieran Ridge Band
Album: Nothing Left To Lose
CD Review: Nothing Left to Lose, the lead-off title track from the Kieran Ridge Band's sophomore effort, wrestles you into submission early, and never relents, in an ambitious mix of classic era Springsteen-style rockers, and their own blend of country, blues and folk.

On the albums handful of rockers such as the title track, "Already Gone" and "Blinded By the Sight of You", I did find it hard to avoid the Springsteen comparison, but not in the typical fashion. Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Kieran Ridge, whose voice resembles more of a gruff Steve Earle than the Boss, has his own take on desperate characters falling between the cracks, and clearly demonstrates a real passion for his tales of outsiders, as well as the bar shakin' good times. However, like Springsteen, Ridge's songs demand a band that can keep up with a series of consecutive melodic hooks and rhythmic avalanches, that attempt to raise the stakes, whether the song is going for broke, or giving us a second to catch our breath. Fortunately, the players are up to task, most notably keyboardist/vocalist Chris Coughlin (who also contributes two of his songs), who delivers more than a few highlights along the way.

The rest of the CD finds the band dropping in mandolin, banjo, accordion, fiddle and harmonica, in place of, or in combination with the more common bass, drums and guitar set-up. Additionally, Ridge subtlety incorporates different song styles into his writing, and combined with the bands multi-instrumentalists, the results are rewarding. Where a song like "Life Is Hard & Love's Unfair" could be done as a straight-ahead folk ballad, the Kieran Ridge Band gives it a fresh spin. Similarly, I could hear the chords and melody of "Think About It" being covered by a soulful R&B singer, but it's rootsy banjo-aided treatment on Nothing Left to Lose gives you something entirely different.

The first impression I had of Nothing Left to Lose was that I would be interested in seeing this band live - the dynamics, the energy, and the type of songs you can sing along to by the second chorus. The second reaction was that I would be interested in hearing this band in a more sympathetic studio environment. The sound quality isn't poor, but the material and performances would be further enhanced by the warmth and clarity of a production up-grade. Similarly, the material is strong, but a little tightening up of the song structure could make these songs that much sharper and more effective.

For more information on The Kieran Ridge Band, visit www.kridge.com
To purchase Nothing Left To Lose, visit CD Baby



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