I've written about four releases from Sean Ryan over the past six years - as a solo singer/songwriter, as part of Jim the Mule, and as the leader of the Dawn (and Sean Ryan & the Dawn). I've always liked his singing voice - a mature blend of authority, precision, and expression. But with much of his work as a solo act and bandleader I've found the combination of standard Americana arrangements and plain-spoken writing dully professional - not vivid enough to avoid the generic.
So the new six-track Waiting on the Storm album from the Dawn came as a pleasant surprise - in particular the expansive rocker "Bring It All Home," a forceful jam that oozes personality and life and has a clear if winding path. An album full of similar songs would quickly become tiresome, but as a startling change-up from Ryan's past work, it reverberates through the entire record.