TRUTH SERUM FOR THE SOUL
Album Review: "The Colors of Life" by TONY RYBKA
Single Review: "Downtown" by Tony Rybka
By Linda Freeman, TIW Music
The best way I can sum up how much I enjoy Tony Rybka's music is that three of his CDs, "The Colors of Life," "Walking Back to Heaven," and "Run With Me" have been on rotation in my car since I got them several months ago. The truth, immediacy, and rough beauty of his music never ceases to touch me.
"The Colors of Life" was released in 2013 by Rybka, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio. It has ten folk rock/blues tracks written by Rybka, with all lead vocals performed by him. He also plays harmonica on "So Good To See You." The album is aptly named: Its songs cover a broad range on a vibrant emotional spectrum, ranging from grim resignation to bittersweet love. The songs share a refusal to mince words, inventive song crafting, and outstanding musicianship. Rybka's voice is an intriguing, compelling presence throughout. "The Colors of Life" was produced by Ray Fister and engineered by Fister and Tim Donderevo, with additional engineering by Dave Vartanian and Matthew Misslich. Most of the tracks were recorded at 5th Floor Recording in Milwaukee.
The musicians accompanying Rybka are outstanding:
Tim Donderevo - Piano, organ, acoustic & electric guitars, percussion, backing vocals
Bob Werner - acoustic guitar, bass guitar, electric guitar
Aaron Johnson - double bass
Greg Dean - mouth harp on "I'll Say Goodbye Now"
Ray Fister - drums, percussion plus backing vocals on "Rin Tin Tin"
Dan Gieschen - acoustic guitar and bass guitar on "Colors of Life"
Kirk Tatnall - electric guitar on "Colors of Life" and "It Was a Good Day (To Be a Dog)"
Norman Moses - Handclaps on "The Happy Song"
Rybka's influences include John Prine and Bob Dylan, and his music is also reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's early albums. Like these artists, Rybka's lyrics get to the heart of a story without mincing words and are reinforced by classic, soulful music and arrangements. Take the chorus of "The Last Man Standing":
"Don't want to be the last man standing/Don't want to be left here alone/Don't want to be the last man standing/Just want to be the man who walks you home." Another good example is "Leaving My Life With You."
Rybka also reveals some wickedly entertaining black humor in songs such as "The Happy Song" and "So Good To See You." These are two of my favorite songs -- they neatly capture the ironies of life and love. The lyrics of "The Happy Song" are contrasted with a catchy, uptempo '50s rock arrangement. "So Good To See You" is taken to the next level by great percussion, Hammond organ, and some great blues guitar riffs.
My favorite song on "The Colors of Life" is "It Was a Good Day (To Be a Dog)," a heartfelt song where lyrics and music join in telling the story of Rybka's beloved pet. More than that, it's a song about good memories, the passage of time, and loss.
"Downtown" ~ I would be remiss if I didn't review at least one of Rybka's more recent singles, and "Downtown" is one. It was recorded in Milwaukee and Cleveland with Fister on drums and Donderevo on keys, guitars, and backing vocal. This song has a catchy melodic hook and addictive pop rock percussion. Its lyrics tell a story that's captivating from start to finish. I enjoy the direction Rybka takes with "Downtown," both lyrically and musically.
Buy "The Colors of Life" on CD Baby athttp://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tonyrybka4
Purchase "Downtown" on CD Baby athttp://www.cdbaby.com/cd/tonyrybka8
Listen to Tony Rybka's music on Reverbnation at http://www.reverbnation.com/tonyrybka
“From the downhome blues of Uglier to the stellar songwriting of And the Rain Came Down, Tony Rybka is a musical treasure! ”
- Greg Leatherman
“Review By: Jose Gonzalez Tony Rybka is a folksy blues writer, and his album “ Walking back to Heaven” keeps that tone. Songs like “ My 666th Dream”, “The Birthday Song” just has that blues attitude with its steady beat, and classic guitar playing. Tony Rybka also slows things down, and changes the tempo with “I’ll get over you”, “ Since The Angels Called”, and the darker/sorrowful side of blues is given. The lyrics are what makes this album, because you get Tony’s story, and you can feel what he has gone through. ”
- Jose Gonzalez, KTSW 89.9 FM
“Hi Tony, Well, it has taken me awhile but I recently listened to your CD "Walking Back to Heaven." You sent it to me a while back. It's very, very good. I think you would be good on the radio! I plan on playing a few cuts, probably "666" "Train" and "Blame." ”
- Steve Traina (Steve's Folk Show: Saturday 9 to11 am on WCSB Cleveland 89.3 FM)
“I wanted to let you know that WOZQ 91.9FM is adding Walking Back to Heaven to its rotation for airplay. Thanks for sending this to us!”
- Thealexa Becker ... Music Director WOZQ 91.9 FM
“I’m loving your cd as much as I thought I would. Your music is intoxicating - romantic sometimes, nostalgic in places, the images evocative. The lyrics are pure poetry, but poetry that rolls out easily and doesn’t try too hard. The singing is powerful, the chord changes just right, all the talent top-notch. I can identify with these songs, feel like I’ve lived them... ”
- RM from Austin, TX
“Fantastic rockin' bluesy folk tunes, Tony. I'm tappin' my toes and listening to your words. Great job! From a fellow folkie, -"Uglier" is a great song, Tony. Ben Aaron”
“Oh, one more thing: During Friday's show I made the argument that modern, indie-folk singer Tony Rybka was "Dylanesque", and I even ventured to argue that he was "better than Bob Dylan". I would encourage you to engage in a hearty debate with me by googling Rybka, listening to his music, and judging for yourself. You in? ”
- DJ CelticED (Edward Burke) WWPV 88.7 FM “The Mike”,
“dig the blues/folk sound you got going on there; music/vocs are good; contemp blues i would say? very very good; itunes should serve you well...'666/dream' is my fav; 'waiting on a train' adef/'what can i say?' makes me smile; i can relate...'a woman like you' makes me think of a band & a basement; scotch tape; MANY THANKS; MUSIC IS GOOD ”
- JS from somewhere in CA
“Hello Tony, I'm Rachell. Listening to WHEN WE GET OLD...yup...I can hear your bones creaking LOL! So tell me...how does such a sad song make me feel so good?! I love this song and can't wait to listen to your other tracks...your voice is so easy...great guitar picking...much talent...
“Tony Rybka Walking Back to Heaven Mission to Moab Records review by Daddo If James Taylor did blues, with a little bit of pop backing, it might sound like this. If this sounds great to you, please to enjoy the entire disc. If not . . . well, track #6 “Waitin’ on a Train” is pretty good. http://reviews.wruv.org/2012/12/walking-back-to-heaven/ WRUV Reviews ”