Gavin Ryan
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Gavin Ryan


Band Blues Singer/Songwriter


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"'Broken Blues' review (3/3)"

Sometimes music is more heartfelt when it is created spontaneously, naturally, and without extravagant alteration - this theory is certified by Broken Blues. Recorded over a mere three days in Dublin's Cauldron Studios, every chorus is dripping with sincerity, every instrument played with genuine passion. Unquestionably, Ryan's debut is a true accomplishment. His voice is deep and commanding, and sings of high romance in a tender and affectionate manner which tends to imply that he's a wise head on young shoulders. 'Before the Money Runs Out' is hopeful yet solemn, and a loved one is encouraged to 'give me one of those smiles / before the money runs out' in this lyrically charming piece. Previously available through the internet and in Road Records, Broken Blues goes on general release this month, and about time too. Experience Ryan's charisma for yourself, and you can't help but appreciate his endeavours."


- Connected, Issue 18, August 2006

"'Broken Blues' review in 'Whisperin & Hollerin' (8/10)"

Your reviewer recently caught a fine show from young Dublin-based singer/ songwriter GAVIN RYAN on his first foray to West Cork to promote the release of this, his debut album "Broken Blues" (available through ). Ryan and his fiery trio gave their 45 minutes absolutely everything and threw in several excellent new songs which suggest he is already thinking beyond this record, yet this burst of feverish creativity still couldn't disguise the fact the band were doing this on a shoestring and crashing on peoples' floors as they made their way around the country.

"Broken Blues", though, suggests that – if any justice prevails – Gavin Ryan oughtn't to be doing the dues-paying routine indefinitely. It's an album which immediately stakes his claim as a mature singer/ songwriter, whose muse has arrived fully-formed and fabulous and a record which should cement his reputation as a roots-y troubadour of some repute.

The album opens promisingly with "On The Line": a blues-y, smoky affair with a fleeting hint of Dylan and The Band. The recording is very live, with whirring organ and Brian Connor's sublime piano playing complementing Ryan's commanding voice perfectly. It's succeeded by the distinctly jazzy "Soon She'll Come Running To Me", which has a truly early hours feel, and while it's superficially mellow, it finds Ryan viewing love through the bottom of a glass darkly ("teardrops slide down a whisky glass/ I was knockin' 'em down in some jazz bar downtown/ 'cos I was feeling blue just for you") and ends up sounding scarred and cracked.

Good start, but the album really kicks off with "Carolina." One this writer had earmarked from the live set, it opens with a memorable, Beatloid piano motif before slipping into a poised, Ryan Adams-style canter with organ and lots of great, wheezy harmonica. It's one that grips you from the off, as does the subsequent "The Sweetest Thing": a sparse and alluring two-step with a graceful and understated feel that suits the emotionally-charged atmosphere

It's not all downbeat and introverted, of course. The wired "E-mail To A Girl In Santa Barbara" cranks up the Marshall Stack in no uncertain terms; "One Night Affair" is a full-blooded Cuban-influenced outing with romance, temptation and mystery hanging heavy in the air and a wide-eyed Ryan admitting "she took me out for the night and showed me things I cannot describe" while "Broken Blues" itself describes the feeling of too many mornings after too many nights before to near perfection. It's not without some wry humour, either, and when Ryan sings "I been starin' at her legs, but they're lookin' like a pair of trees" it's difficult to stifle a guffaw.

The album's closing stretch, though, jealously hoards two of Gavin's finest moments thus far. "Far, Far Away" is again built around Brian Connor's piano and is patient and full of longing, not to mention featuring arguably Ryan's best vocal performance, but it's topped by the wonderfully sparse and haunting "Tenderness" where an all-too tangible sense of loss and sorrow is kissed by gentle finger-picking and drifting lap steel. It's hymnal and fragile and perhaps the best song he's recorded to date.

But then this album is refreshingly devoid of weakness and stands as a tremendous introduction to an exciting young performer we will surely come to cherish in the near future. His live set suggests there's much more to come of this calibre, but let's not get ahead of ourselves: "Broken Blues" is heady, emotional and a dark night of the soul you'll continue to enjoy long after the sun has come up again

- Tim Peacock, Whisperin & Hollerin, August 2006

""One to watch" feature article in 'In Dublin" magazine"

We here at In Dublin are loving Gavin Ryan at the moment and after seeing him perform at the Ruby Sessions, it's hard not to. Like the cheeky love child of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, for someone so young it's rare to find so much on offer. Let's just set the record straight though, Ryan is definitely not out to emanate either, he just has it, and that's only one of the things he has going for him. Ryan's debut album Broken Blues follows on his list of accomplishments. Mixing the best in Blues / Jazz and roots it's astounding that someone so young has produced something so old hat, which can easily content with the ever growing elite of international singer / songwriters on the go.

As a graduate of DIT school of music, Gavin used his time there to produce a few cheeky EPs which granted him a meeting with dynamite engineer, Ciaran Byrne, who has worked with accomplished artists such as U2 and Emmylou Harris. Together, Byrne and Ryan managed to gather a stellar cast of musicians. In 2004 they went into the studio and recorded Broken Blues in three days and let's just say, for only three days this album is ridiculously tight. It's completely organic in every way and at this point in time to hear music so unaffected is rare.

And what has Gavin Ryan been doing since 04? Well, after a highly influential Irish A & R dude picked up Broken Blues, Gavin was flown to New York, promised the world and then dropped at the last minute without so much as a Goodbye. However, that was probably the best thing that ever happened to Gavin Ryan! You can be sure he would have emerged from the states mullet clad, in a pair of Dior 'skinnies' with the trademark black eye lined streaming down his face. This way, he has learnt from the school of hard knocks and that is the stuff that makes us go on to succeed. With a stealthy and admirable level of determination, Gavin handles all of his press and PR himself, he has taken things with a hands on approach and we here at In Dublin have no doubt he is going to succeed.

Could I blow any more smoke up Gavin Ryan's ass? Yes, probably, but the thing is he has more than earned it, as a first album, Broken Blues ends up leaving you with a level of eager anticipation for what's to come next. Highlights off Broken Blues are The Sweetest Thing, Email to a Girl in Santa Barbara, Tenderness and Broken Blues.

Head to Gavin's myspace if you want a listen and if you really like what you hear, Broken Blues is distributed through Claddagh Records. After spending the summer gigging at festivals like Castle Palooza, Gavin and his band are set to play Crawdaddy on November 12th, which should be a perfect introduction for many to someone who no doubt will be around for quite some time."

Orla O'brien; October '06

- InDublin october 06

"Broken Blues, Strong Spirit by Claire Kelly"

GAVIN Ryan released his debut album Broken Blues last July and plays a highly anticipated gig at Dolans on Friday September 8. Broken Blues wonderfully highlights this gifted lyricist's vocal capabilities and his soulful jazzy sound.

Singer songwriter is a dirty word these days and according to Gavin "the great thing that's happening is that a singer songwriter is not what people get when they come to a Gavin Ryan gig. They are quite big gigs in terms of sound and they are quite fun, we often get people screaming and shouting but we also get very quite moments. We do a lot of really rocky blues numbers which are a lot of fun, but it never loses the lyrical message." Gavin doesn't think about being labelled that "dirty word" and is comfortable about what he is. "I'm not comfortable with the idea of one man and his guitar, it's certainly not what we do. I'm joined onstage by a band of three of the hottest jazz musicians in Dublin right now".

The album was written in two parts. "Half of the songs have been done in the singer songwriter vein and were written a few years ago. On The Line and Broken Blues were written closer to the time of recording the album". These songs are a new departure for Ryan who says, "that they are more imagined than typically autobiographical. The further you move away from yourself the more you move towards what you really want to say. If you overtly talk about yourself, sometimes you are missing the whole point and not really going anywhere". These songs he explains "move into a voice which is more distinct". Ryan's voice is definitely up there with Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Bob Dylan along with The Doors who he describes as influences in terms of song writing. His voice also bears a similarity to the bigger, mature sound of early Jack L. "My sound has changed a bit over the years. These days I listen to jazz, some flamenco and a lot of Cuban music. I love Irish Trad, I love West African music. When it comes to writing it's harder to say what gets in."

His father is an Irish Diplomat and his mother is Korean with Gavin leading a very cosmopolitan life growing up between London, New York, Seoul, Madrid and Brussels. He moved to Dublin at 18 and studied English Literature, History of Art and Music Technology. "I got the piano lessons when I was five, got my first guitar when I was eleven and started song writing in College", he continues as if it was more of a chore than a privilege. He was inspired by none other than David Kitt in an interview he read in a College newspaper. "I remember reading an interview in the Trinity (College) paper with this guy called David Kitt who had just left the Music Technology course that I was doing. The article kind of inspired me to go on and subsequently do the course which I did." Of course he took advantage of the unlimited studio time.

Gavin is pleased with the positive reaction to the album and it is distributed through Claddagh Records. The album was produced by Gavin and "ace sound engineer/ producer" Ciaran Byrnes (U2, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello) and sessioned by the cream of Irish Jazz, Blues and Roots players. Unlike a lot of artists he does not have a big PR machine behind him and does (almost) everything himself. "The only way to get it out there is to get on the road and play gigs, it's really the only way of bringing my music to anyone. Outside Dublin, journalists and DJ's are very helpful, you can call them up and they will listen to the album and if they like it they will do something with it. In Dublin that doesn't happen. All the DJ's and journalists in Dublin only play and review music which has a big marketing budget behind it. There is no way of getting your music to a national DJ if your independent and that's the reality of it." This lack of interest is because there is no financial gain and nothing to do with his abundance of talent. "You believe going in to the industry that everybody in the industry per say are music lovers but that's not the reality of it. When you get outside of Dublin though the music community gets enthusiastic about it. I live in Dublin, it's quite a savage place there are so many bands that even the major acts are finding it hard to compete let alone independent acts/labels. None of the major labels sign what you hear, its all how people look and not much music, its seems to be going backwards or reversing the whole time."

The irony, he points out is that he is now even more "pig-headed and idealistic" than ever. "If its not going to happen for me, its not going to happen for me my way and I don't think there is any point, I'd rather put out two albums and be really proud of the way I did it than trying to conform in any way to what some of the labels are trying to get people to conform to." A lot of bands are getting attention from having a song endorsing a product but Gavin insists that if he wanted to put his music to ring tones or adverts, he would just work for an advertising - Limerick Post december 06

""Gavin Ryan bounches back from broken blues""

TRAVEL can do a lot of different things to your persona. Think about the
majority of people you know who have spent an extended spell abroad;
invariably their attitudes and opinions have altered by the time they come

For Dublin-based songwriter Gavin Ryan, it was four months travelling alone in the Basque Country that provided the stimulus for him to re-evaluate his approach to musicmaking.

"That was four years ago and I had plugged to death the whole verse/chorus anthemic way of writing. It was a time when I was getting much more into jazz, blues and roots music
and a combination of both that and travel dedicated to finding a new way of thinking about song writing helped to bring about the first songs that were
written for 'Broken Blues'," Ryan explains.

'Broken Blues' is Ryan's debut album, and while he is still only 26, its birth wasn't a particularly easy affair. The songs might have flowed during his stint in the Basque Country,
and afterwards when he did a Masters in Music Technology at DIT, but the process of getting it out there exposed Ryan to the ugly side of the music
industry. Recorded over two years ago, the album only saw the light of day this summer, with Gavin financing the manufacturing

"Basically, an A&R guy here promised me a release deal with one of the great jazz labels in the US who are now part of one of the majors. I was taken there and met all these suits who kept on saying things
like 'you're going to be great kid' and 'you've got the look' and crap like that. Anyhow, in the end they just kept on talking while 'Broken Blues'
sat there with no sign of any movement. Nine months later I just walked away from it. I hadn't signed anything, thank God. But it was a hard one to come back from, and it meant me going back to the day job breaking my back to raise the money to release the record independently."

The anguish in getting the album out in some way reflects the aptness of the title of Ryan's debut.

'Broken Blues' for the most part mixes blues, jazz and folk, while common themes of late nights, failed relationships and missed opportunities are littered throughout.

Gavin also feels that his own family background has had an influence on his writing. Born in Dublin to an Irish father and Korean mother, he left Dublin when only a few months old, and didn't return until he was 18.

"My father is an Irish diplomat so we moved around with him wherever he was posted, that included Brussels, London, Seoul, Madrid and New York. Diplomatic kids, I feel, are a kind onto their own. I mean, it doesn't consciously effect you growing up but certainly, when I 'settled down' in Dublin, it suddenly did appear to me how different my sense of—or lack of—identity was from other young people who are born and bred into one culture. At this stage I'm happy to call myself Irish and to call Ireland my home but it took five or six years before I felt like that. The idea of a lack of a sense of identify or isolation is not strictly a diplomatic phenomenon when it comes to art of course, but it may have been influential thematically with some of the songs that feature in 'Broken Blues'."

While what happened after the recording of the album has sadly yet again documented that men in suits don't always know best, Gavin has
extremely fond memories of the recording of the album, which all happened in three days.

In Ciarán Byrne, he had found an engineer who had worked with Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, and a fine supporting cast was brought into studio; musicians who had played with Morrison, Paul Brady and Sinead O'Connor, to name but a few. "The way I got them was crazy really if you think about it. I went through the then Hot Press yearbook and felt from the biog that Ciarán was the right engineer/producer for me. Through Ciarán we booked Bill Shanley (guitar), Brian Connor (keys), Nick Scott (bass) and Steve Hogan (drums). In a way I was crazy to put so much blind faith financially as well as musically in a group whom I knew very little about, but I was lucky; they were everything and more that I wanted."

2006 has been a kinder year to Ryan after what he describes as "the worst year of my life". As well as finally getting the album on the shelves, he has started gigging more intensively, and makes his Limerick
debut this Friday. "I've played 30 gigs since going independent this year, when I was 'with' the label I didn't play one show in one year! That is not what being a musician is meant to be. In retrospect though, I learnt a lot about the realities of the industry during that year and I was much better
equipped to release the record on my own than had I done it earlier."

Looking forward, there are talks of a Dutch tour and plenty more Irish dates, and there is also a backlog of songs written for the second album.
His experience overwhelms his youth though, and he is aware that nothing is set in stone.

"I'd like to - Limerick Independent • 06 December 2006 30 ENTERTAINMENT

"Live review from De Barra's, Clonakilty, 24th March 2007 (9/10)"

Our Rating:
Serendipity can sometimes be an important ingredient where rock'n'roll's tastiest dishes are concerned. On his birthday last year, for example (don't you dare ask me what age it was) your reviewer popped along to catch Cork's tremendous Stanley Super 800 play at this very venue. As it turned out, the support was one GAVIN RYAN: a young Dubliner with a voice capable of eating Nick Cave for breakfast and an affinity with the blues seemingly unfeasible for such an apparently unassuming young man.

Ryan and his talented backing group then proceeded to knock this writer's socks off with an all-too-brief 45-minute support slot and your suitably wide-eyed reviewer later departed with a CD copy of Gav's debut album 'Broken Blues' under his arm. Unsurprisingly, the album - recorded with the cream of Dublin's sessioneers such as guitarist Bill Shanley and bassist Nick Scott - didn't disappoint and within a few days W&H was carrying a lengthy appraisal and its' reviews editor had earmarked Ryan as an artist he must catch when he ventured this way again.

In the end, it took eight months for Gavin and his talented trio to make their way back down to Clonakilty and from the outset it was clear it was going to be a strange night, not least because De Barra's - outwardly famous as the West Cork venue frequented by the late Noel Redding for many years - appears to be inadvertently re-inventing itself as THE Hen Party meeting point of choice. Tonight alone there are three Hen do's, two stag parties and a 21st vying for attention with the band. To say the audience is 'colourful' is something of an understatement and your reviewer is singularly unsurprised when he gets assailed by a bloke with a ball and chain around his leg and Batman comes up to shake hands before the band come onstage. Curiously, he seems rather pissed-off when I ask where Robin is. Huh. Clearly, superheroes ain't what they used to be anymore, eh?

So it's just as well that there are still a few performers out there we can rely upon to be brilliant - even when they're confronted by a largely pissed-up bunch of punters out to attain nirvana/ oblivion (delete as waywardly applicable) in any way they can get it providing it involves copious amounts of alcohol. And, despite everything negative surrounding them tonight, Gavin Ryan and band surely fall into this category.

Wisely choosing to limber up with a few choice Rn'B covers (I'm talking rhythm'n'blues here, not Missy Elliott for the uninitiated), Ryan and co. find their feet quickly and get a sizeable portion of the crowd on their side, even if security do end us escorting Manacle Man away from his centre-stage position and Batman's chat-up lines appear to be failing dismally. They then dig into their set proper with an adrenalised version of album opener 'On The Line' and - after Gav disappears to re-string his guitar and the band have skilfully busked some Nina Simone - a double whammy involving the intricate and truly lovely 'Sweetest Thing' and a potent new tune called 'When The Heart's On Fire.'

Charismatic from the outside, Ryan's stage presence and confidence has come along in leaps and bounds over the past few months and he's comfortable enough to lose his guitar for the swoony late night blues of 'Sad Brown Eyes' early on in the set. It's a great showcase for his fantastic, resonant voice and shows he can embrace tenderness and delicacy just as effectively as he can cast a bucket down the Tom Waits-ian blues well to divine gutbucket vocal takes on tunes like the exciting back-to-back newies 'Roadhouse Blues' and 'Midnight Blues'. And no, you're not seeing things: the first one IS called 'Roadhouse Blues' and it's nothing to do with The Doors. With its' tom-heavy backbeat, it's equally terrific, though.
Ryan's band, meanwhile, are inspired all night. Although his rhythm section tonight are technically only on loan while his regular pairing are occupied elsewhere, they play like they've lived these songs for years. Keyboard player Kieran Quinn, though, is surely the lynchpin, and songs like 'On The Line', the gloriously sad and resigned 'Before The Money Runs Out' and a sublime Dylan-with-The-Band-style 'Carolina' are all imbued with the notable grace and danger of his piano. The flexibility the trio bring to the table also ensures Ryan can let loose and make the stage his own, not least when he tackles songs like 'Sad Brown Eyes' or 'Carolina' where he shows he knows a thing or thirteen about blues harmonica playing.

The set is generously stuffed with hugely-impressive new material. 'Sad Brown Eyes' and the powerhouse pairing of 'Roadhouse Blues'/ 'Midnight Blues' aside, there's also room for the gorgeously inviting Burritos-style country canter of 'Sweet Santa Cruz' (hit single in reserve! - ed), the Wordsworth-via-John Lee Hooker blast of 'Lonesome As A Cloud' and a couple more I can't recall the titles of. They're already settling beautifully in, th - Tim Peacock, W & H


Broken Blues LP, Released 2006.



“Heady, emotional and a dark night of the soul”. Since releasing his critically acclaimed debut, Broken Blues, in 2006, Dublin troubadour Gavin Ryan has been blazing a trail with his high octane blend of blues, soul and jazz that has drawn comparisons to Tom Waits and Nick Cave. Blood stained ballads, tales of love, death and late nights, delivered with a voice like a steam train at full tilt, and backed up by a fiery trio capable of either inducing pin dropping silence or blowing the wattage off a PA, this is the real deal.

Cooked up at Dublin’s Cauldron studios, Broken Blues was produced by Ryan and ace engineer / producer Ciaran Byrne (U2, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello) and sessioned by the cream of Irish jazz, blues and roots players, Bill Shanley, Brian Connor, Nick Scott and Steve Hogan.

"A young Dubliner with a voice capable of eating Nick Cave for breakfast and an affinity with the blues seemingly unfeasible for such an apparently unassuming young man..."9/10
W & H, March 2007

"...Its an album which immediately stakes his claim as a mature singer/ songwriter, whose muse has arrived fully-formed and fabulous and a record which should cement his reputation as a roots-y troubadour of some repute...But then this album is refreshingly devoid of weakness and stands as a tremendous introduction to an exciting young performer we will surely come to cherish in the near future..."Broken Blues" is heady, emotional and a dark night of the soul youll continue to enjoy long after the sun has come up again." 8/10
Tim Peacock, Whisperin & Hollerin, August 2006

"Sometimes music is more heartfelt when it is created spontaneously, naturally, and without extravagant alteration - this theory is certified by Broken Blues. Recorded over a mere three days in Dublins Cauldron Studios, every chorus is dripping with sincerity, every instrument played with genuine passion. Unquestionably, Ryans debut is a true accomplishment..." 3/3
Sarah-Jane Ryan, Connected, August 2006.

"...Like the cheeky love child of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, for someone so young it's rare to find so much on offer...Mixing the best in Blues / Jazz and Roots it's astounding that someone so young has produced something so old hat, which can easily contend with the ever growing elite of international singer/ songwriters on to go..."
Orla O'Brien, InDublin, October 2006.