Picks and Pans Review: Mayday

updated 10/27/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/27/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Matthew Ryan

Like Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen before him, Matthew Ryan is that rare breed of singer-song-writer who can sound barroom tough yet still perform with beauty and intelligence. The Pennsylvania-born bard displays both a poet's sense of detail and the rough-hewn voice of a coal miner in these roots-rock songs of loss, longing and melancholy. Full of passion and injured pride, Ryan writes songs that sound like they come not from the music industry but from the heart. On "Comfort," he even worries that his livelihood's in jeopardy: "Rock 'n' roll is dead!" he growls. But given his ability to turn even the saddest personal predicaments into jubilant musical events, Ryan helps guarantee that his brand of rock is indeed here to stay. (A&M)

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