Classical CD Reviews

A Horse with Wings – Ricky Ian Gordon, vocal and p. – Blue Griffin
Bric-a-Brac – Ricky Ian Gordon – Blue Griffin

The man has definite talent, and you won’t be alone if the first word that comes to your mind is “Sondheim”.

Published on September 17, 2011

A Horse with Wings – Ricky Ian Gordon, vocal and p. – Blue Griffin<br/>  Bric-a-Brac – Ricky Ian Gordon – Blue Griffin

A Horse with Wings – Ricky Ian Gordon, vocal and piano – Blue Griffin 209, 59:45 [Distr. by Albany] ***:

Bric-a-Brac – Ricky Ian Gordon, vocal and piano – Blue Griffin 221, 68:20 [Distr. by Albany] ***:

For a take on some of composer-singer Ricky Ian Gordon’s instrumental music, take a gander at Gary Lemco’s review from earlier this year.  The man has definite talent, and you won’t be alone if the first word that comes to your mind is “Sondheim”; the influence is undeniable, and Gordon has that same sense of rhythmic elasticity and subtle perfection of word setting that makes these songs such a joy to hear and to comprehend. His melodies are quite memorable and there is little sameness of approach–each song seems to bend to the lyrics like a comfortable couch eases the back. You just feel very much at ease when hearing this music. It does not make profound demands on the intellect—these are not settings of Camus or Sartre, but they are settings of well-known and superb poets like Rainer Maria Rilke and Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose colors and poetic meaning translate easily into musical expression under the inspiration of Gordon’s muse.

On the inside cover of the booklet to A Horse with Wings is a quote from Gordon who says “To my mother who always thought I could sing.” Well, I hate to disagree with anyone’s mother, but this time mama’s devotion to her little boy clouded her ears. In fact, Gordon can’t sing, not worth a lick, unless you greatly degrade the notion of singing. His voice is monochromatic, barely in tune, not particularly expressive, and essentially amateur. I don’t know which part of his ego convinced him to make these recordings, but it was a mistake. His music is superb, no question; but I can’t listen to these again without a real preliminary girding of the aural loins. I have heard a few snippets of his music before by other singers, and anyone is superior to what we have here, yet I still rate the music very highly. But generally speaking, unless you are into open mike night at the local club, this is simply not satisfactory, even though I am amazed at his ability to sing while playing his often difficult piano parts. If you want to hear his songs with a really good voice, I would suggest another Blue Griffin recording, and flowers pick themselves, with Melanie Helton singing and the composer accompanying.

—Steven Ritter




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