He is a great songwriter, he is a great musician, but oh that voice of Ryan Balthrop!
Each great musician I have heard has a strength in one phase of the music that raises them up. It may be his or her writing skills, it may be the way they connect with the audience or the way they play their guitar, violin, trumpet or bass. For some it is the voice control and range. For me, all of the best musicians stand out in one way or another.
Ryan’s voice is the crown jewel of his talents.
Ryan is one of those people who was born to sing. His voice is powerful, he knows how to control his voice and the quality of his voice is one of the best I have ever heard. I certainly understood why Eric was so impressed as a teenager when he first heard him in a band called Slow Moses.
Sunday May 20, 2018 Ryan Balthrop was scheduled to play at The Listening Room and even though I had many obstacles in my way including a recent health issue I was fighting to recover from; I was determined to go see him. My son was reeling from a long day of travel back from Mexico, arriving near midnight the night before…but we got there, we were a little late but there.
The first song we heard was “Baby Just Go”. It is a lively song about a road trip as I was picturing him in the back seat with his, then 3 year old son, it made me smile.
He played one I was familiar with called “Two Little Fishes” that tells his love story in the style of “Nemo”. What a wonderful uplifting song this is; you must look it up, and listen.
Another song that was new to me is “Honey let me make it right”. I personally loved the words to it…and I loved the whistling that accompanied it as well.
“Way Down Low” is one of my all time favorites of Ryan’s, it is a masterpiece and when he started playing it I was thrilled.
He went on to play “Love is a car”(the first song on his first record), “Obstacle Illusion”, “Fall Together”, “Love Burning White Hot”(which he wrote for and played at his sister’s wedding). Great song.
Though he played many wonderful and powerful songs, the one that touched me so deeply was inspired by the death of his close friend, Chris Miller. I related to the depth of his pain as I lost my best friend at age 19 (Fay South)…she was killed on Dauphin Island Bridge, the pain never leaves. He spoke about things that added to his pain; one of which was the preacher didn’t even take the time to learn his friend’s name and said it wrong over and over during the ceremony. (his was called Chris, short for Christian) but the minister said Christopher. I know to some that might be trivial but it is never trivial to those who love the deceased, it is actually disrespectful. In the song Ryan sings “Preacher man didn’t even learn his name when they laid him in that hole”…..”They couldn’t save him that day he drowned”…
Ryan told us that his friend was an organ donor and his eyes, liver and kidneys went on to help others in need.
This is a true musician, a born songwriter is one who can share the depths of their pain and the heights of their joy through lyrics. Ryan Balthrop is the real-deal. If you haven’t heard him you have missed out….
Thank you Ryan for being you.
Thank you Jim Pennington for providing a place where musicians can be themselves. The Listening Rom of Mobile, 78 St Francis St.