Mary Lydia Ryan
Country of origin:
Type of music generally:
Ethereal evocative/eclectic alternative pop, getting more beautiful and fierce all the time
Most recent release, Harvest Moon (covers, 2012); most recent release of original material, Sunshine & Second Chances (2011)
Own, occasional covers
Mary Lydia Ryan sings and plays the piano, and so comparisons to Tori Amos come to mind. She's quite different though. While a song like "Bleeding" could have been a Tori song (Little Earthquakes era) most other songs are more mellow, more melancholic, introspective and wistful. Not depressing. Most songs have something uplifting in them as well. It's good music for a rainy day when you're comfortable inside by the open fire. Mary Lydia's piano playing is not as eloquent as Tori's but it's nice and flowing and very effective—I like it very much. I like the prominent role the piano has in most songs, sometimes it seems even more important than her singing. Her voice is high and clear, and very slightly lingering. (Marion)
Comments about live performance:
The first time I heard her live was a few months before the Diaphanous release, and it was wonderful, confirming just how powerful and focused and distinctive she is, and moving her way up the scale of my favorite artists. I think hearing the new material and hearing just how great a pianist and vocalist she is, made me realize that her range (of vocals and material) is much broader than I'd thought. I was also lucky enough to attend her disc release concert for Diaphanous and it was revelatory. She is a talent to watch. (Neile)
Recommended first album:
Mail order and U.S. stores that carry indie release
Mary Lydia Ryan—vocals, piano
Timothy W. Killian
The cd opens with the outstanding track "Farewell Ophelia" (based on Shakespeare's words). Beautiful, melancholic, misty piano music, with some very effective strings added, and Mary Lydia's complementary voice. This song would make the album worthwhile on its own even if the other songs weren't as good as they are. The piano plays an important role on the album, some songs are almost half instrumentals, and the sound of the piano is recorded wonderfully. The style of the songs is quite diverse, but Mary Lydia's flowing piano playing and her voice keep all songs together and make this a nice consistent album. Sometimes the music goes a bit in the jazzy easy listening direction (as in the bossa nova "Thinking of you"), other songs are more upbeat ("The Kiss", "Bleeding"), and in "Tale of the Cherub" there are vague glimpses of the experimental music of Emily Bezar. I like the sparse arrangements, the addition of strings or a flute or drums in the right places works really well. Also the male vocals in "The Kiss", especially the spoken words there, add drama to the song. I'm not too fond of the same male backing vocals in "I know" though, where I find them distracting and too much in the foreground. But that's the only real flaw I can find in this lovely album. (Marion)
Mail order; see website for details
Highly, highly recommended
Mary Lydia Ryan—vocals, piano
I liked her first self-titled cd quite a bit, but this new one I LOVE. The new disc blows the old one out of the water. It has everything going for it that her first disc has (her lovely, warm voice and great piano and creative and melodic song structures) but she's pushed it to the next level—the songs are just that much more catchy and her performances just that much more varied and engaging and powerful. The album starts with this incredibly catchy song called "devil with wings" (ie., "You're not an angel / you're a devil with wings") and never lets up. The whole album is excellent, especially songs like "Begging" and "Liar", and it moves from powerhouse songs to haunting ballads without losing its flow. It's full of wonderful lyrical and sonic hooks. Stunning. This album keeps making me hit the repeat button. The strength of her songwriting on this album has made it one that I sink into more and more each time I hear it. There's a variety of moods here and she expresses them all so well. And there are just some amazingly catchy tunes and lyrics. I highly, highly recommend it. (Neile)
Mary Lydia Ryan—piano, vocals
Mary Lydia Ryan
It's so nice to have new Mary Lydia Ryan to listen to, and such a lovely album at that. At first it seemed soft and pretty and not as "deep" as Diaphanous, which I really, really love and still listen to regularly. But it has grown on me a lot. It is a very pretty album—both the vocals and the piano work—and that is precisely why I enjoy listening to it. (JoAnn Whetsell)
Thanks to Marion Kippers and JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.
DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.
|Entry last updated 2013-01-13 16:36:52.
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