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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ron Armstrong - Ready For Ya

Ron Armstrong - Ready For Ya
2013, Self-released

Ron Armstrong has been through the wars.  Playing rock and roll since the mid-1960’s with bands such as The Misfits, Jamul, Little Rock (Joel Sonnier) and the Ron Armstrong Band.  Armstrong’s voice is as eclectic as his writing style, and sampling his catalog of songs can be a dizzying experience.  The work on his latest album, Ready For Ya, is solidly written, full of subtle nuance and occasionally a gentle but insightful humor.

Armstrong kicks things off with "Old Folks Boogie", featuring wicked guitar work and a bantering, light hearted premise. An exotic dancer is on Armstrong's mind in "Oh Suzie", and his rumination is delivered in 60's pop style that is quite enjoyable. "Just Around The Bend" is a song of angst over the future. Hope and fatalism mix with gentle humor over a powerhouse arrangement. It's a great listen with surprising depth. "Fences" laments the privatization of nature, where what's intended to be a relaxing afternoon turns into a confrontation with fences and signs. 

Armstrong issues a bluesy/country invitation in the form of "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight", done up in classic style. The guitar work is top notch, and every musical detail sounds perfectly crafted. "You Can't Catch Me" is a love song to a car with serious horsepower and smooth lines. It's a fun little number you can dance to. "Movin' To The Country" vamps on loving the country and country music, but not fitting into a marketable niche.  Armstrong digs into the blues for "Little Red Rooster", laying down some nasty guitar licks while singing and growling his way through the vocal. 

"J Marie" rides on a 60's backbeat and classic rhythm and blues guitar sounds. Armstrong sings with heartfelt desire and brings the song to life. "Just Like A Woman" is a well intended ballad that falls flat. The pacing here is painful, and many listeners will move forward before Armstrong is finished. "Listening To Jimmy Reed" is a nice recovery, infusing a little honky-tonk attitude into the process.  This ode to the great performer is a bit gratuitous, but is written and played from the heart. Armstrong closes out with an energetic cover of Reed's "The Sun Is Shining". Armstrong and his band are at their best, closing out on a high note that shakes the foundations of country, rock and old school rhythm and blues.

Ron Armstrong sings with a voice both worn and warmed by age on Ready For Ya.  It’s a musically and lyrically enriching album that digs at the roots of rock, country and blues.  Ready For Ya is a quiet keeper.  It’s not an album you’ll obsess over, but don’t be surprised if you keep getting called back to it from time to time.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

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