Falling Down To Heaven

Barb Ryman

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"The Minneapolis Star Tribune had it right. Barb Ryman wears her heart on her sleeve. All the better to touch yours. Try not to be moved by the poignancy of "So Hard to Let You Go" in the face of Ryman's multi-leveled, plaintive repeat of, "I can't move it all". It's a tale of loss made more tender through simple details ("stored in boxes in the room behind the den", "we had plans to paint this room") ana simple arrangement that colors Ryman's Cotton picking with splashes of steel drum, whispered harmonies, and concertina (I think). Another highlight, "Ballad of a Drowning Woman", tells the harrowing tale of a desperate single mother on a journey to the New World. Ryman effectively creates a piece that could be a traditional ballad with authentic-sounding lyrics ("I begged that a maid or a servant I'd be/to earn passage for my family") and more clean finger picking, this time in d minor, the saddest key of all. Everyone's journeying somewhere on "Falling Down to Heaven". Grandpa prepares to "Fly Like an Eagle" to heaven. The protagonist of "Born in a Snowstorm" wrestles with her faith in Jesus as she moves north. The CD finds Ryman uncharacteristically serious throughout, on her own spiritual quest for rebirth voiced in songs like "Paradise" and the countryish anthem "Rise Again". Along for the trip is some high-powered help in the form of luminaries like Irish-American accordion virtuoso John Williams, Steve Tibbetts, and Peter Ostroushko (soloing exquisitely in "Rise Again"). And what an emotional, sweetly acoustic trip it is." David Kleiner, Minor 7th.com

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