Pulse Alternative  Magazine UK


‘Reanimated’ (CD & DL, 15 May 2020)

A veteran of the Minnesota music scene, RAY GILMAN has performed 1,000’s of shows and released an impressive 17 CD’s, the latest of which, ‘REANIMATED’ comes preloaded with 12 cracking tunes and should further increase Ray’s standing in the music world while expanding his core fan base.

Ray cites such luminaries as Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Tony Iommi as influences but the great thing about ‘Reanimated’ is that it doesn’t sound like any of them. Ray’s got his own unique thing going on but I am picking up a Tom Petty vibe on opening cut ‘Animated’. An earworm from the top drawer it’s the type of song that’ll bury deep in your cranium and haunt you for days. The refrain is so catchy it should be illegal as it skips along on a ray of sunshine. ‘Give Me One More Day’ follows in a similar vein and it’s here that Ray’s guitar is set free to insert a bluesy solo mid song like a delicious filling in a chocolate gateaux.

The slightly of kilter ‘Could Have Been In Love’ finds Ray taking a distinctly new wave turn; like Clapton jamming with The Cars it’s not an unpleasant detour. ‘Questions’ seems to ululate as it bounces from solo to riff and back again as the cascading synths mid song create a nice foil to the earthy guitar. With a nod to the British blues boom ‘Peach Cobbler’ is an all out raucous rocker. Full of clashing riffs and electrifying guitar solos its only fault is that, at under 3 minutes, it’s just too darn short.

If something good has come out of this coronavirus then it’s surely ‘Reanimated’. Using the downtime to write and record this album in just 6 weeks has resulted in a long player that’s propelled forth by a spontaneity that’s rather infectious. ‘Quarantine Blues’ succinctly summarises our current plight before ‘Deliver Me’ puts its foot to the floor for some serious rock action and Ray has possibly created the ultimate driving song; synths rise as if heat from the road while the riffs spin like wheels gaining traction.

The quintessential definition of a one man army Ray not only wrote and played all the instruments on ‘Reanimated’ but he also engineered, mastered and produced it too which makes all the twists and turns contained within even more impressive. Stevie Ray Vaughan on a slow blues jam is ‘Hard Deal To Make’ before we get the heavy punch of latter day Zeppelin on ‘Beginning And Beyond’. ‘Don’t Run Away’ saunters into town with a confident swagger and will win over any disbelievers with its funky groove.

The penultimate ‘Not Where I Come From’ is a howling blizzard of lush keys and swirling guitars that sweep the listener up in a storm of effervescence. ‘Hard To Say’ is the grandiose closer very much in the vein of Journey or Foreigner. Ray Gilman really deserves to be heard by a bigger audience but I’m sure the wrong type of record label would water down his eclecticism so I suggest you climb aboard now.

 Let It Go

This is a CD that could only have been done by a guy who has lived a few years and seen many of the trials and tribulations that life has to offer. It also offers to the listener the savvy of a guy who uses that experience to tell tales that echo life as we live it. As different as the happenings of one's existence, Ray brings a varied approach to his outlook on life. From a hip almost 60's sound to some terrific bluesy guitar work and even a touch of Motown finds its way into this very potent disc. Ray also adds a touch of humor and an irony to his lyrics that reminds me of the tales that Warren Zevon gave to us all. He might not be writing about the jungles of Biafra but he does take us through some of the thick underbrush of everyday life.

Remember the movie Eddie and the Cruisers? This disc makes me think of a scene from that film. Eddie was talking about his craft with his lyricist and says: "Words and music, they need each other". Ray Gilman seems to have the same outlook as he puts as much emphasize on what he says as he does with the music that delivers his message. This is not to say that Let It Go is a deep philosophical album, far from it. It is a disc that deals with ordinary feelings and events and tells them in a way that everyone can relate to.

Take the first song on the CD "Tell Me What I Want To Hear". With a rollicking old time rock and roll feel, Ray brings a good dose of humor into a situation that all of us has been in at one time or another. He has a genuine knack for creating lyrics that echo the sentiment that yeah, I have been there too! This song sets the standard for what will follow. Using a medium that almost feels like one of the power pop bands from the late 60's or early 70's he creates a fun atmosphere that sucks you in and holds you for another 9 episodes on the disc. Just don't expect to stay in this nostalgic mode as he hits you from a few different perspectives along the road.

Ray uses a different angle when he gives you a soulful blend in the song "Workin'" which reminds me of the band Rare Earth. Add some terrific guitar work and you have another catchy song that sticks to you like glue. Being from Michigan I grew up on music like this and Gilman seems to have a fondness for it too.

There are two instrumental songs on the album. The first "Lightnin' Boogie" is a guitar romp which shows that Ray certainly knows his way around the fretboard. The second is called "Power Struggle" and it seems like the struggle is between keyboards and guitar for dominance. Both songs are highlights that emphasize the fact that Ray has as much musical ability as he does with penning terrific lyrics. These interludes are both powerful statements in their own right and will delight all who enjoy a good musical frolicking especially the second song where Ray takes you on a journey that has so many peaks and valleys, twist and turns that you best bet is to just strap yourself in tight for the carnival ride you are about to take.

While I am listening to the title track "Let It Go" it strikes me that Ray sounds a lot like Joe Walsh when he sings. He also has Joe's sense of humor when it comes to music. This combination has made Let It Go a frequent flyer in my CD player. It might not be an earth shattering musical event but instead is a disc that is just a whole lot of fun and one you will enjoy time and time again.

Track listing:

1. Tell Me What I Want To Hear
2. Workin'
3. Let It Go
4. Lighnin' Boogie
5. Far Away
6. Time To Leave
7. Troubled Mind
8. Friends Until The End
9. Lost
10. Power Struggle

Added: February 13th 2011
Reviewer: External link opens in new tab or windowScott Ward

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