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Barb Ryman: Press Kit/Reviews

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211 Barb Ryman from Mad Toast Live on Vimeo.

212 Barb Ryman from Mad Toast Live on Vimeo.




(Sep 13, 2008)


Charting #15 in the Nation on the Folk DJ Chart!


Listening to Catch the Sunset, the sixth album of Minnesota singer-songwriter, Barb Ryman, I can’t help thinking she really has caught it….in all the ephemeral beauty, the simultaneous sadness and radiance, of every sunset since the dawn of time. This is one profoundly beautiful and beautifully profound CD.

Catch the Sunset is primarily a collection of story songs in the folk tradition, and Barb Ryman is a consummate story-teller. Drawing inspiration from real life (often her own), her songs are laced with detail but never boring; never too long, and never overly dramatic – a quality that allows room for the listener to call up his or her own personal experiences. She sings them all in a high, pure voice that reminds me of the clarity I used to love in early Joan Baez recordings.

From touching songs such as Soldier’s Daughter (about the loss of her father, a navy pilot, when she was four years old) incisive political songs like Nursery Rhymes, there is a stunning sincerity in her voice; an unflinching truthfulness and brave vulnerability that immediately command attention.

Ryman accompanies herself with a cascading finger-style guitar (and ukulele on one track). And she, in turn, is accompanied by a dozen excellent musicians over the course of a dozen songs and two bonus tracks. Most outstanding among these musicians are her back-up vocalists, Prudence Johnson and Diana Grasselli, whose harmonies couldn’t get any tighter if they were synthesized! And, as in albums past, Peter Ostroushko’s virtuoso violin and mandolin (often heard on “A Prairie Home Companion”) add a touch of magic.

Co-produced by Marc Anderson and Barb Ryman, Catch the Sunset provides a rich variety of acoustic textures, both thematically and instrumentally. Ryman is not afraid of painful subjects, such as the recent loss of her mother, and the lonely “confession” of a touring songwriter. But pain never rules the day…and there is always a hopeful, healing quality to her songs. Better still, she has a dry sense of humor and an appreciation of life’s ironic twists that provide a delightful counterpoint to her more serious side.

The instrumentation reflects this diversity. In addition to usual upright bass and electric bass…electric guitar, 12-string guitar and acoustic guitar…drums, percussion, and keyboard, there is the unexpected tuba, cello, harp and mouth whistling. Somehow – perhaps because of the understated quality of each song – the tracks all flow together seamlessly. This album achieves that rare balance between a varied and homogenous listening experience.

Barb Ryman is definitely one-of-a-kind…but in such a straightforward, understated way that the entire impact of her work sort of sneaks up on you. Of the 13 original songs inCatch the Sunset (one of the bonus tracks is an alternative mix of Nursery Rhymes), I found the majority to be in the “forever memorable” category! These included the title track, with its multiple metaphors of the sunset…followed by Take, a sad reflection on our nation’s greed…and the inspiring true story of Scary Mari, an artist who underwent such profound rejection and outrageous humiliation that, ironically, the art world finally took notice of her. Then there is Soldier’s Daughter, tenderly written from her deceased father’s point of view, and Arms Across the Sea, about trying to get home before her mother’s passing. I think many people who have lost older parents will be able to relate (tearfully, I might add) to this song.

Finally, there is Ryman’s “hit” on the Folk Charts this summer, and one of my personal favorites on this album….or any album, for that matter! It is Nursery Rhymes, an absolutely brilliant, multi-faceted parable condemning corporate/government greed and corruption using the same timeless nursery rhymes that were used hundreds of years ago to expose the same sins. It is witty and incisive, and the song has tremendous energy….in both its original acoustic version and its alternative, electrified, more rhythmic version. I could listen to this alternative mix all day long! It could - I think, SHOULD - be the banner song for the Occupy Wall Street movement.   Jackie Morris

11/13/11 - 

"Catch the Sunset" by Barb Ryman is a fabulous musical progressive folk trip into her world. Rather than feeling her pain she invites you to follow her glorious dreams.   John Shelton Ivany   

8/18/11 – St. Paul Pioneer Press

Twin Cities singer-songwriter Barb Ryman's career started relatively late, with motherhood and work as a speech therapist pushing music onto the back burner. But whenever she releases a new batch of songs, it's worth lending an ear because her work is so disarmingly honest and open-hearted. Such is the case with her first album in four years, "Catch the Sunset," an inspiring set of tunes that reflect upon the deaths of her parents, her childhood dreams, the rebirth of hope and some sage takes on our national priorities. She celebrates its release in a room ideally intimate for her style. 7 p.m. this Sunday, Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Mpls.; $12-$10; 612-825-8949 - r hubbard

8/18/11 – Minneapolis Star Tribune
Barb Ryman's voice has never sounded lovelier, more pliant and soothing than on the 14 tracks of her new CD, "Catch the Sunset." It's beautifully produced in a cozy Red House Records kind of way, by all-pro percussionist Marc Anderson, and has a great supporting cast, including Peter Ostroushko, Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and even John Munson of Semisonic, who turns up to do some charming whistling on the album's most idyllic, poppy number, "Picture Us." Yet for all its prettiness and polish, the irony is that "Catch the Sunset" largely features Ryman's poignant side....You might want to bring a hanky to her CD release party this weekend, ready to whip out when she performs "Confession" or "Arms Across the Sea." (7 p.m. Sun., Bryant-Lake Bowl. $10-$12.) Surowicz

8/18/11   KUAR – Little Rock, Arkansas

Yes a writer who tells a story - what a concept! Nursery Rhymes, Scary Mari, Soldier's Daughter all just thoughtful and thought provoking, well structured, interesting and engaging melodies - the CD is a treat for the discerning listener!   Len Holton

7/12/11 KZGM in Cabool, MO

In 2003, a year after winning a McKnight Composer Fellowship,  Ryman  decided to quit her job as a speech therapist and become a full time  musician.   Her latest album, her sixth, is called Catch the Sunset.  She takes on subjects as diverse as corporate greed, people who don't appreciate unconventional art, and the magical world of childhood.  Move over  Judy Collins!  Here's Barb Ryman..


(If you are looking for a press release, scroll to the bottom)
What the reviewers are saying about Barb Ryman:

"You can't help being amazed at the power of her presence and the sound of her voice. You can't help but listen." Jim Walsh, St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Barb Ryman proves herself a strong vocalist, talented composer, and an astutely irreverent student of the human condition.” Dirty Linen

“Ryman’s songs of faith display wonder, awe and acceptance.” Sing Out!

“A heart-on-sleeve triumph” Minneapolis Star Tribune

"...Charming vulnerability and a rare knack for detailing the profound truths of everyday life. Her clear, ringing voice was reminiscent of Sandy Denny or Iris Dement." Jim Meyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Ryman has a clear and winsome voice, a ready sense of humor, and a short story writer's flair for detail." Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Besides an unaffected sense of humor, Ryman possesses a sharp eye for social criticism and a truly moving compassion for human struggle..." City Pages (Mpls/St Paul)

“After 18 years of listening to singer-songwriters in this business, I can tell when someone stands out. Barb Ryman is IT.” Gorge Maida, WCVE Radio, Richmond VA

"Ryman delivers an honest and straightforward performance traveling over emotional peaks and valleys with remarkable fluidity." St. Paul Pioneer Press

"Her voice is like a soft haunt from a ghost just stopping by to give you a gentle massage. But while the spirit may visit only temporarily, the feel stays with you for days." Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, SD

“Magnificent melodies and brilliant singing” Radio Teutoburger Wald, Germany

CD Falling Down To Heaven..."what an emotional, sweetly acoustic trip it is" David Kleiner,

"She's a grounded mystic" Sing Out!

CD Earthbound..."upbeat lyrics--the kind that make you want to dance around your living room when no one's watching." Jamie Anderson,

REVIEW CD - EARTHBOUND Crystal-voiced Minneapolis singer/songwriter Barb Ryman sounds lovely and earnest on "Earthbound," her fifth album in a late-blooming career that started after her kids were grown. She sings about soft green moss, sunset and even strawberry pie. And she ends with "Spam Me," a commentary about e-mails with a clever chorus set to the tune of Roger Miller's "Dang Me." It's a low-tech LOL classic. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Cedar Cultural Center, $12 advance, $15 door.) (J.B.)

Sing Out Review of "Earthbound"

Minor 7th review of "Earthbound"

Minor review of "Falling Down To Heaven"

St. Paul Pioneer Press Review

Dirty Linen review of "Like A Tree"

Minneapolis Star Tribune Review of "Lay Me Open"

Dirty Linen review of "Winds Of Good Fortune"

Press Release For Barb Ryman #1

Press Release For Barb Ryman #2