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Rick Ray Band, The: Can't Lie Hard Enough

Restless guitarist Rick Ray returns with his umpteenth album (we lost count of these things a long time ago). But here's the surprising thing: Ray's more-recent output is arguably more engaging than earlier releases. Take the first three songs of Can't Lie Hard Enough, the latest disc from the Ohio-based band.

The album opens with the title track, a rollicking tune (one of Ray's most memorable, in fact) punctuated with mighty riffing and a happy harmonica. Then, on "I'm a Vagrant," Ray shows off his guitar skills with some prime sludgy soloing that boogies along the line between blues and rock and showcases the band's ability to balls-out jam. Similarly, lead vocalist D.C. shows off his raw, bluesy chops on the third track, "Gotta Be."

And so it goes on Can't Lie Hard Enough. Not all tracks are lodged in the blues corner, though. "I'm Nobody" is a sad yet pretty ballad, but it seems D.C. feels a little out of place in this type of acoustic environment, at least vocally. A sax solo emerges as the song's defining moment. "Dragon's Breath" takes the Rick Ray Band in alternately more metal and progressive directions, and the political "Propaganda" spins off into unexpected detours with cappella vocals and spacy jazz instrumentation. "Spinning Round and Round" and "What He Deserves" also, ahem, deserve your attention.

As with most Rick Ray albums, the production could be cleaner. But, at least on Can't Lie Hard Enough, the murkiness suits this material just fine. No need to lie hard about anything on this record (which, by the way, features black-and-white artwork by Ray himself): This is another welcome release from the Rick Ray Band.

Track Listing:
1) Can't Lie Hard Enough
2) I'm a Vagrant
3) Gotta Be
4) I'm Nobody
5) View From a Train
6) All I Want Is Peace
7) Dragon's Breath
8) Propaganda
9) Spinning Round and Round
10) What He Deserves
11) Wonderful
12) Blasphemy
13) Judge and Jury

Added: May 7th 2011
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Rick Ray Website
Hits: 2118
Language: english

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Rick Ray Band, The: Can't Lie Hard Enough
Posted by Alex Torres, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-05-07 06:45:49
My Score:

You guys in the States don't know your own luck! To have a band like The Rick Ray Band living and working in your country! Jeez! I would love to see these guys play live! What a sound!

Rick Ray should, of course, be familiar to SoT readers, having had many of his previous albums reviewed (positively) on the site. What surprised me about Can't Lie Hard Enough, though, was its quality. His previous albums are very good but, on this current album, he and the band really seem to have found, miraculously it seems to me, another gear in terms of musicality. What you get on Can't Lie Hard Enough, amongst the traditional Rick Ray rockers, super-fluid guitar and great riffs, are some subtle, beautiful melodies and some mouth-watering acoustic sections and numbers! There is an added level of interest here that makes Can't Lie Hard Enough stand out above other Rick Ray albums.

A band like Rick Ray's is what really defines progressive music, unlike a lot of the retro "prog-rock" one hears. The band's approach to instrumentation is one aspect that defines this sound. They are not just happy to rock out. The juxtaposition between Ray's guitar and Rick Schultz's saxes and clarinets is one of the great highlights of this music, it's a joy. Schultz's playing brings colour, texture, depth, balance and more to the music, Indispensible! The other guys weigh in well too: there's some particularly fine playing from Wally Spisak on bass. Dennis Corrigan's vocal performance on this album is particulalry strong, the best I've heard him sing; perhaps helped by the fact that with some slower numbers in the mix he's been able to show that he can deliver a fine melody. His harmonica playing is also pretty cool! Another highlight on Can't Lie Hard Enough is a little gem of a keyboard solo from Syzygy's Sam Guinta on "Propaganda"'; it's gorgeous!

The album starts traditionally enough for Ray with a series of three up-tempo numbers before he rings the changes with "I'm Nobody", a softer, slower "ballad" (I'm tempted to say) with a catchy melody. The tempo stays down for "View From a Train", allowing the calrinet, harmonica and singing to shine great melodic writing, great arrangement. Just in case you were getting worried, "All I Want Is Peace" is a stonking rocker with some super guitar and bass runs and a fabulous chorus! The variety adds interest to the album and we continue with a mix of rockers, slower numbers and some surprises, like acapella start to "Propaganda" and its super keyboard work that I've already mentioned and the Layla-style acoustic ending to "Blasphemy?"

Overall I'd say that Ray has traded in some of the technobratics for an enhancement in the quality of the songs and the arrangements. these songs are extremely well crafted and the album profits as a result. There are still the rockers and the technobratics, but there's also much more, making this the most enjoyable album of Ray's band that I've heard. the others are pretty good, so that's some compliment.

If these guys had had the money to invest in better production for instance, I felt the mix on Schultz's instruments was sometimes a bit low this would have been a five-star album!

As it is, if you've not got a Rick Ray band album in your collection, then you should really correct this fault immediately by buying this album. If you are already a fan, then you'll undoubtedly enjoy this addition to your collection. Great stuff!

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