Ricky Warwick - When Patsy Cline Was Crazy... / Hearts On Trees (9/10)
I do struggle a bit with Ricky Warwick; a lot of the time, in pictures and in person, he looks like someone who would bite your dog’s head off it wagged its tail at him in the wrong way, then you hear him sing...
Mr Warwick is blessed with a voice that sounds soulful and effortless, it’s just right, it never gets in the way of a song, and both as singer and writer he’s at his absolute best when he’s telling stories. “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues) / Hearts On Trees” is Ricky Warwick telling stories, twenty-odd of them in fact. Summary – besides taking the 2016 title for “most-awkward-title-to-type” it’s brilliant, so perhaps take a moment and go buy it so he’ll get to record more of this stuff! Oh – then come back and finish here.
The album is actually two packaged together, “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)” is the rocker and “Hearts On Trees” is the folker (well, mostly). They play well together and in both cases influences are writ large – perhaps a bit too large in places; I’m hearing snippets of Bob Seeger (via Metallica), Journey, The Cars, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Johnny Cash, The Alarm, and Thin Lizzy that had me singing along to a quite different song on occasion; and there are moments when you will absolutely swear that Phil Lynott was in the studio (check-out “Tank McCullogh Saturdays” and “The Road To Damascus Street”) – I know about Ricky’s time in Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders, but this is uncanny and really quite haunting.
Songs are co-written by Ricky Warwick and Sam Robinson. Their Irish roots are present but not overblown, and they sit comfortably alongside American rock and folk influences. Listen through the vocals and you’ll hear some kick-ass musicians too, including excellent in-the-pocket drumming from Gary Sullivan and guest slots from Joe Elliot (Def Leppard), Richard Fortus (GnR, Dead Daisies), Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol), Ginger Wildheart and others. Mostly though, it’s just about fine Rock & Roll that works well for a quiet listen-in, or loud in the car with the top down!
This collection plays strongly to my personal tastes, but perhaps the big tell was when my fifteen year-old Boy-Child walked and wanted to know who it was and could he please have a copy! I like it so much that even though I have the review copy (sadly without the “bonus” tracks!) I think I’m going to buy it anyway.