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coverpic flag Australia - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 21 - 07/09/98

Anton Ryan
Bare Essentials EP
own label

"Bare essentials: Essentially bare, naked, exposed, raw, no extra's, a face without makeup, the truth of the matter, without the superficialities." This definition is found on the back cover of Bare Essentials. Well, I can like that, and it open's quite well with Sing It Out, a strolling tune with calm guitars and a semi-catchy refrain. Can't Sleep is the most rocking song with moderately fuzzed-up guitars around a pretty basic rock riff, but it's rocking well. Rhapsody melds in some acoustic guitars also, but the melody sounds a little awkward in my ears, and the refrain seems to be stamping along without going anywhere. Keep My Faith is Ryan alone on vocals and acoustic guitar. A ballad with both a blue and gray feeling. I'm not sure about the lyrics - whenever I hear lines like 'I keep my faith, and I keep strong', I tend to slip into protection mode - but OK. Ryan's voice sometimes remind me of David Byrne's on this somewhat unoriginal ballad.

The introductory definition seems to be a good description of the production / arrangement side of things; clean and minimal. But this way of working requires solid songs and solid performance, and I can't help getting a little bored with these songs. Perhaps adding a little more than just the bare essentials would have provided a more colourful listening experience, but if you crank the volume up, at least the two first songs seem to loose most of their 'grayness'.

With him on this EP singer/songwriter Ryan has Chris Bailey on bass (no, I don't think it's the Saints man) and Mark Kennedy on drums. I don't know if these musicians are with him on the road, but I would anyway guess that an Anton Ryan concert is worth visiting, if you get the chance.

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