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Rick Monroe

Gypsy Soul EP – 2017 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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CDs by Rick Monroe

"Gypsy Soul" is a brief 22-minute showcase of his songwriting talent (he had a hand in all 6 tracks) and while country is the unmistakable baseline both lyrically and instrumentally, it deftly walks the line between grit and polish.

The record can be divided into distinct halves. The first three tracks are on the radio ready contemporary side featuring the easy rolling single "This Side Of You" and the curveball, "Better;" a danceable number with a funk groove. The title track, an ode to the troubadour lifestyle that evokes the sonic and vocal rawness of Bob Seger's "Turn The Page" kicks off the muscular feel that dominates the remaining 11 minutes and culminates with the bluesy, soulful "Rage On." It features a deft Gibson ESV and a jazzy Hammond B3 that expertly accompany Monroe's soulful vocal, which make it awash in bluesy authenticity. The production is more appropriately sparse on the latter half and feels more like a one take radio session than an official stamp of approval from a sound engineer.

This effort may split time between contemporary and traditional, but it is country to its core. Rather than a compromise between commercial appeal and the strive for the legitimacy of traditional sound, Monroe shows they can coexist.