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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Riley Armstrong
Label: Sevenspin Records
Riley Armstrong is a new experience to this reviewer. Oh, I knew he existed in all of his former dreadlocked glory, but only in March 2006 did I hear any of his material for the first time. That solo show was wonderful, full of wit, charm, humor and great songwriting. Armstrong's gift is the ability to connect with his audience as though he's talking to a group of old, close friends. So it was with interest I picked up his latest record to hear how that live experience translated onto my iPod.
The Riley Armstrong recorded experience is certainly different from the live experience, but very good in its own right. Acoustic guitar is dominant, of course, along with Riley's gentle yet expressive voice. Drum loops and low-key synthesizers lay down a rootsy funk vibe to the alt-folk, however. Songs range from the personal (The heart-felt "Melting" and inspiring "Anthem From 4th Place") to light ("Cassette Decks" with it's bo-chunk guitar hook and the amusing "Cellphones"). Although "La Loop" has about one speed - mellow - the album is a truly joyful, peaceful and warming experience. I've no idea if Riley Armstrong has come a 'long way' from his dreadlocked Nashville days. I can, however, remark with utmost confidence that I hope for more charming music in the future from this clever man.
Ryan Ro / Cnxmusic.com