Don’t trade in authenticity for approval is a mantra singer-songwriter Ron Greene holds close to his heart. His journey in faith, and in music, has been about boldly following that inner compass we all have, and getting closer to the truth. His latest album, In Honor Of A Critic, is a celebration of the self—it’s poignant, playful, and chock full of invigorating grooves.
“The title references that, in life, we sometimes try to please other people. The songs on this album are about trying to be the real me—faults and all—this album is the real Ron Greene,” confides the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho -based singer-songwriter.
Greene’s distinct aesthetic encompasses radio-ready pop-rock hooks, elements of warmly intimate folk, smoldering funk grooves, and emotive and soulful vocals. He’s garnered favorable comparisons to Lenny Kravitz, Gary Clark, Jr., Bruno Mars and John Mayer. Greene has issued two well-received studio solo albums and one fiery live album. As an engaging solo performer, and fronting his ace solo band GRE3NE, he’s performed nationally, from New York to the Pacific Northwest. Live career highlights have been performing on the main stage at Choochokam Music Festival, making six consecutive appearances at Spokane Pigout In the Park, and sharing the stage with such diverse artists as Kings X, Rusted Root, PM Dawn, and Paulo Nuttini. This spring Greene will tour nationally, hitting seven cities in ten days.
Greene grew up in a church-going family, and had his initial music epiphany seeing a video of Phil Keaggy at a church social event “The next day I learned three guitar chords from my neighbor,” he recalls. His awakening to music coincided with a wonderful spiritual transformation when he began attending his neighbor’s church. Greene learned guitar on the pulpit playing in the church band, and spent time at home honing his skills studying the masters of Christian music as well as the funky sounds of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson & Prince. From there, his spiritual growth and musical growth dovetailed into one profound life journey that continues to this day.
In Honor Of A Critic is a milestone entry in Greene’s solo catalog. This creative breakthrough coincides with Ron again joining forces with longtime ally Eddie Ramirez. “Eddie, who suggested the album title, is a huge part of this recording, and a huge part of its sound,” Greene says. “How we've worked together is by bouncing idea's off each other, seeing how things jibe, and then going from there.” The songwriting on In Honor of a Critic, which is shared by Ron & Eddie, is mature and well rounded—it explores life, love, and relationships with humor and heartfelt sincerity. The album, guided by Ramirez deft production, is also a natural progression of Greene’s affinity for a more full-band sound, touching upon electric styles such as jazz, funk, R&B, and rock. Vocally, the album also represents a creative breakthrough. With Eddie’s guidance Greene has discovered he has a hidden jewel of a silky falsetto voice, and he does most of his own harmony singing on the album, layering choice vocal melody passages with soaring complimentary vocal lines.
Highlights on the album include the invigoratingly funky first single “Rock Your Body,” the uplifting “Vultures” (written by his son), and the boldly vulnerable “Your Love Is.” If the churning old school funk of “Rock Your Body” gets you off your butt and burning calories, then Greene’s mission is accomplished. “That’s the beat that gets you moving,” Greene allows. “It’s a fun song about working out. It’s a nice tongue-in-cheek moment away from all the seriousness.” The ethereal emotionality of “Vultures” addresses the crux of the album—embracing your individuality no matter what “the critics” say. “My son showed me that song, and I thought it was awesome. It’s really the mantra of the album. Vultures are those people that try to knock you down. The message here is block the negativity and be yourself,” Greene explains. The stirring pop-rock ballad “Your Love Is” sends a message of pure and poetically expressed love.
In performance, Greene curates a live experience that whisks people away from their worries and the grinding cycle of daily living. He plays intimate singer-songwriter shows where he employs transcendent looping techniques to express a dynamic sonic range, and he plays sweaty full band extravaganzas with world-class musicians who share in fiery collective creative chemistry. Greene also forges a bond with the audience through peppering his live performances with covers including hits from the pop canon reimagined with his signature musicality.
For Greene, sharing in personal truths has been the most profound aspect of his path in music. “To me, it’s about connecting with people,” he says. “I’ve played shows where I’ve seen a ten year-old girl moved to tears—it floored me—and I’ve played wineries where I’ve seen older people dance. Music connects people of all ages, races, and faiths. It’s such a powerful tool.”