The Rick Ray Band - "Can't Lie Hard Enough"
(Neurosis Records 2011)
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
It's been some years since I've reviewed a Rick Ray album. I've been keeping up with his output but it felt good to settle in once again with the extra attentive headphones listen. Rick plays hard rock with a great groove and compositional sophistication that straddles the Prog Rock edge. The songs are mostly in the 4-6 minute range but always take time for instrumental workout segments.
I used to emphasize in my reviews of Rick's albums how the combination of his guitar and Rick Schultz's horns formed the core of the band's sound. But I was struck on Can't Lie Hard Enough with how Rick's current lineup is such a full and complete BAND. Schultz's horns are still integral to the band's sound, but we've got a tight band here where everyone shines and D.C.'s vocals are both Rock dirty and soulful. And of course the always provocative, food-for-thought lyrics remain a hallmark of any Rick Ray album.
There are 13 tracks on Can't Lie Hard Enough. Among the highlights are the fast paced rock with a great groove heard on the title track and Judge And Jury. Both have killer mean bluesy harmonica. I'm A Vagrant and Wonderful are both down 'n dirty rockers that exemplify the band's flair for instrumental elegance while keeping the listener's fist pumping. Gotta Be is a standout with Psych guitar trading licks with what I believe is the wind synth. Killer track! Dragon's Breath is a chunky rocker with a Prog-Jazz edge. Propaganda is another highlight, featuring one of the best guitar solos on the album plus killer keyboards and spacey effects from guest musician Sam Guinta who is in the Prog band Syzygy. Smokin'!! There are also some mellower tracks I enjoyed, like I'm Nobody, View From A Train, and Spinning Round And Round. I liked the lulling horn and harmonica solos on View From A Train. And Spinning Round And Round is a really nice acoustic guitar/clarinet/vocal song.
Another winner from the Rick Ray Band. If you like accessible, well crafted heavy rock that rewards attentive listening, Rick is for you.
For more information you can visit the Rick Ray web site at: http://www.rickray.net
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by Spaceman33