Friday, October 9, 2009

RMB Review

I wrote this comprehensive review of the Ryan Montbleau Band for my school newspaper, the Red & White.  I love disrupting the norm here at school and going beyond mainstream artists... and the editors apparently like it too! (Now I'm a staff writer.. Hooray!)  I'm going to be writing another review for the next edition as well, so look for that bad boy coming your way!

disco sometimes doesn't suck,

Elizabeth Bayne ’10
Red & White Staff Writer

Are you a closeted bluegrass junkie? Perhaps someone who digs funk? Or do complex, introspective ballads turn you on? Well then, friends, The Ryan Montbleau Band may become a staple on SG iPods far and wide.

I experienced the RMB for the first time at a music festival over a year ago and ever since, they have surpassed any and all of my expectations. I will be the first to admit it – I’m hooked.

Montbleau went to college for English, and believe me, it shows. His lyrics are pure poetry. Each song tells a story. Every word means something. A personal favorite, “Love and Love Lost,” recounts how a young friend loses a love interest and as a result is “lost, like patience on Friday, like a star behind the moon, burning and beautiful but looked at too soon.”

Another song describes Montbleau’s experience working as a substitute teacher to support himself in the early days his music career. He sings about signing “an autograph at nighttime and a bathroom pass by day.” While the RMB can certainly tell an effective sob story, there is an expansive portion of his repertoire that leaves room for fun: a crowd favorite is an ode to America’s favorite breakfast food – eggs.

Montbleau continues to amaze and impress throughout his stage career with his gift of being able to shift gears on the drop of a dime. He glides through difficult transitions with ease, such as creating an intimate ambiance at the utterance of the last few lines of a ballad, then diving into a happy, bouncy ragtime song that has the whole audience grinning and singing along. That’s real talent.

As the Folk Art and Music Exchange puts it, Montbleau “very rapidly grows on you, if you can go beyond the standard and the formulaic.” So what’s magical about this guy? My answer? His sound.

There is nothing cookie-cutter about this band from their repertoire to their showcased “acoustic-driven, bluegrass-infused lyrical and musical range, which [is sung] with some western-twang and solid doses of funky R&B,” as described by WERS, a popular radio station located in Boston.

Still doesn’t grab you? Try taking the song “Grain of Sand” out for a spin. I personally guarantee those five minutes spent are not five minutes wasted.