Music Review: Fifty Miles to Chicago – Andrew Ripp

Hi there!

You know those moments where you listen to a song and immediately start to get chills down your spine? That’s my cue that an artist or a particular song resonates somewhere deep within me. Andrew Ripp‘s song “Dresden Wine” gave me chills. And based on the video of him playing the song live in the studio, I was introduced to his souful, unique voice and led by the nose to the rest of his album…

Fifty Miles to Chicago has an honest spirit about it that’s hard to describe. Ripp is a storyteller. And like all great storytellers, he focuses on relationships. Some romantic, some friendly, and some about the relationship with yourself, which is often the hardest one to keep.

The music on this album moves from rock to rock ballad and back again with little effort. And Ripp seems as comfortable at the piano as he is with a guitar, which proes he’s got some serious music chops.

“This record really portrays who I am not only as an artist but as a person,” says Ripp of writing the album. “Honesty goes a long way because you can see right through it when somebody is slopping words on a page. And I feel like we took the time that was necessary to really work through every word.”

Ripp worked with songwriter Randy Coleman and recevied help from bass player Randy Coleman (formerly a member of Tonic) as producer. But this is all Ripp. He funded the album himself and recorded it in Lavery’s home studio in Los Angeles. He definitely was a part of every step of the production and you can hear that in the album. Ripp brought in Pete Maloney (Dishwala, Tonic), Will Hollis (Eagles’ keyboard player), and steel guitar player Eric Heywood (Ray LaMontagne). This crew can play.

As I mentioned at the beginning, my favorite song on the album is definitely “Dresden Wine”, but I’m a sucker for powerful piano-driven ballads.

But that’s far from my only favorite on Fifty Miles to Chicago. It opens with a groove that made it difficult not to get up and dance. “Get Your Smile On” has almost a Jason Mraz-feel to it with the rhythmic cadence of the lyrics along with the guitar and drums. He doesn’t stop there though, instead building into a more organic fusion of rock riffs that spill back into the lyrical flow…

“Miracle of You” feels almost like a collaboration between Sting and Jason Mraz. The music has a sweet Caribbean beat and light guitar that blends seamlessly with his unique voice and some great harmonies in places.

And “But You Saved My Life” has a sweet acoustic riff that leads into a blues/rock riff reminiscent of the classics from the 70s, right down to the organ and the groovy back-beats.

Ripp has an amazing sound on Fifty Miles to ChicagoL that will be tough to top. He’s been playing with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Fiction Family (Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek), Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, and others.

And as if touring and working on the album didn’t keep him busy, he recently did an overseas tour playing for the troops and spends time volunteering for a group called the Art of Elysium, who uses time donated by artists (musicians, actors, and so on) to spend time with kids in hospitals to give them a boost.

If you like great rock music, Andrew Ripp should be in your collection. Be sure to check him out and pick up a copy of Fifty Miles to Chicago.

–Fitz

p.s. Look for Fifty Miles to Chicago at your local movie store or online.

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