Congratulations are in order to the brotherly duo of Jimmy and Johnny Ryan. Legacy, the latest album by the veteran guitarists specializing in double leads, garnered four nominations for the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. Even though the album didn't make the final ballot in any of the nominated categories -- best instrumental arrangement, best instrumental composition, best rock instrumental performance and (egad!) best rock album – Legacy is still a winner.
Steeped in the tradition of Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy and timeless Celtic music, the record is primarily an instrumental affair featuring some of the top players in the world, including bassists William Kopecky and Chacho Montemayor, and drummers Johnny Mrozek and Bob Behnke. From a beautiful but brief rendition of "Amazing Grace" (which opens Legacy) through several elegant yet propulsive tracks that evoke images of their titles ("Leprechaun's Ball," "Baja Breeze") to the heavy "Harmony" that comes near the end of the album – this is a work that reveals new elements with each listen. "Any similarity to commercial music is not intended and should not be implied," reads the penultimate sentence of the album's liner notes. Unless commercial music suddenly latches onto melodic guitars that sometimes sound like flying synthesizers; incorporates instruments as diverse as mandolin, tin whistle and bodhran; and begins to thrive on vocal arrangements and delivery styles that recall the Alan Parsons Project, the songs here succeed in being decidedly anti-commercial.
But they are highly listenable – even though Legacy is one of those albums you have to experience in one sitting. Of the 16 tracks here, four comprise the "Legacy Overture" and another three make up the "Mother Suite." The rest more or less segue into each other and leave listeners wondering where and when they can see these guys live.