Sometimes an album comes along that just has everything going for it: solid songwriting, talented personnel that click with each other, and top-shelf production values. Deb Ryder’s sophomore solo album, Let it Rain, checks all of these boxes and then some. This disc proves that her excellent debut CD was no fluke, and that she definitely has a role in the future of blues music in the United States.
For Let it Rain, Ryder could not have done any better than having Grammy-winner Tony Braunagel come on board as producer and drummer. Recorded in the famed Ultratone Studios with Johnny lee Schell engineering, they were joined by bassist and executive producer Ric Ryder, Mike Finnigan on the keys, Johnny Lee Schell, Kirk Fletcher and Albert Lee on guitar, Kim Wilson on harp, and the killer horn section of Lee Thornburg and Lon Price. These folks are all first-call musicians, and there are also a few guest artists that joined in to really make this a special project. Deb’s voice is powerful and dripping with soul! Whiskey soaked vocals come close to an explanation but vocal chords marinated in moonshine might better explain the full-bodied gruffness reminiscent of Koko Taylor.
All of the songs are written by Ryder. The album opens with the soulful “That’s Just How It is”. The rhythm section of Braunagel and bassist Ryder lay down the strong foundation that enables Fletcher’s guitar, and Finnegan’s Hammond B-3. “Can’t Go Back Again” is a shuffle featuring the horn section and soloists Finnegan and Thornburg on trombone. The whole band swings on “You Won’t Be True” with solos from Fletcher and Finnegan. All of the horn arrangements are by Thornburg. Guest Kim Wilson, harp, is featured on “Guilty as Sin” about a woman done wrong. The song opens with a guitar crawl similar to “Scratch My Back” but settles down nicely. Schell and Finnegan chant, “guilty, guilty” in the background. This is among my favorite songs on this album. Ryder gets into a gospel groove on both “Cry Another Tear” and “Hold Your Lamp High.” On the former, organist Finnegan takes us to church.
On the later, Fletcher’s guitar sets up the rhythm while Thornburg’s horn arrangement and subsequent trumpet solo adorn the production. “Lamp” is another of my favorites. The title track “Let It Rain” features both Fletcher on guitar and Wilson on harp. Braunagel hammers out a Cajun beat on “Ma Misere.” The album closes out with the Delta sounding “Round and Round” with Schell on a national guitar augmented by Wilson on harp.
This latest release is without a doubt the real deal and not to be missed, and should ignite the career of Ryder who seems to have it all!