Music Review: She Remains the Same – Andrew Ripp

Hi there…

A little over a year ago I wrote about Andrew Ripp’s debut album – Fifty Miles to Chicago – and absolutely loved it. The beauty of a debut album of that caliber was its honesty. You could tell with each note and word that he believed passionately about his music. So when I had an opportunity to give his sophomore album a listen, I jumped on the chance. Though sometimes new artists will suffer from the “sophomore slump” as they go from the album they had years to produce and hone from the pressure of the music industry pushing them to roll out the next record, occasionally you’ll find an artist so at home with their style and sound that their sophomore album sounds more like they’ve been doing this for years…

She Remains the Same keeps the honesty of that debut album but offers so much more to fans. Ripp continues to surprise, with an album that dives deeper into his own personal truths. From the bluegrass rock feel of “Growing Old Too Young” to the acoustic folk ballad “Forever After Love,” there’s something here for everyone.

As I listened from beginning to end, I was struck by the shared themes turned on their head… Where Fifty Miles to Chicago was more about having fun and finding your path while you enjoy the journey, She Remains the Same focuses on arriving at a destination and dealing with settling down a bit. The truths found by each of us finding a place to call home…

“Savior”‘s message provides an interesting counterpoint to “Dresden Wine” on the last album. We go from “I don’t want to be your savior / I can’t be the one to hold you down…” as a powerful piano ballad to “I found my savior…” and “I found my Jesus on a city street / he gave me freedom through a trash can beat…” with a strong rock/blues guitar song that absolutely rocks as my favorite song on the album. The message is clear – “Don’t worry ’bout me… ‘Cause I know where I’m going when I’m gone…” He’s found his way and it’s awesome.

Savior – Andrew Ripp by SidewaysMedia

The song “Rider” is another favorite. This one is less upbeat, but all about lessons learned. The Rider in this case is riding down the line trying to find something… “And I did all my time seeking gold / But this line that I’ve drawn / Is long and taking its toll…” In the end, the goal he’s been seeking on the road is where he’s always been – “Been looking for freedom / When freedom’s been here all along…” And with this message, there’s a driving bass and guitar like the dotted lines of the highway, backed with Ripp’s vocals in minor keys. Like with “Dresden Wine” – there’s a passion here and you can tell it’s personal.

And you can tell that Ripp has found a home in Nashville with a few of these tracks. From the slow, guitar-fueled ballad of “She Don’t Lie” – telling the story of how everything around him is dead, dying, or a lie, but his girl remains the same and doesn’t lie… “I’m breaking at the seams / And my American dream is dead and gone / (But it’s alright cuz) / She don’t lie…”

Then “The Good I’ll Do” focuses on losing the girl… “I touched your heart and turned it black / You swear that it ain’t coming back / But I’m made of more than what I lack…” Broken promises, hope gone up in flames, the girl is gone – but someday he’ll prove he’s worth the trouble.

There’s a spiritual quality to this album as well, as though his time on the road made him find something deeper to draw on. “You Will Find Me” would feel as home in church as on a stage. “When you come thirsty / when the well’s dry / when your soul’s dirty / I am by your side…” With a bit of guitar and steady beat on a single drum in the background, the piano and Ripp’s voice drive this one with a positive message. You are never really alone. And that’s an important thing to remember on the road just as much as it is at home.

If you’re looking for a rock album with a heart, check out She Remains the Same on iTunes or at your favorite retailer. Andrew Ripp may have left Chicago, but he’s continuing to bring his fans a great variety and sharing more of himself in the process.

For more information about Ripp or for a current tour schedule, check out his site – AndrewRipp.com.

This review first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Music Interview: Andrew Ripp

Hi all…

A few weeks ago, Andrew Ripp was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. The artist behind the amazing album Fifty Miles to Chicago had many things to say about the musical life and what may be next…

Andrew Ripp - Fifty Miles to Chicago
Image by grnknight via Flickr

Q) As someone who’s been involved in the music industry, what part of the equation is the most difficult for you? Touring? Recording? Writing songs? Arrangements?

A) Honestly, the downtime is the most difficult part for me. Writing songs, touring, recording, are all things I’m passionate about…even though they are hard work, Its the days when I don’t have anything going on that are the hardest because I just want to get back to it. Someone once told me that if you get good enough at what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And that really hits home because even though some days are hard hard, I’m still doing what I love.

Q) What was the first instrument you learned to play? And what’s your favorite right now?

A) When I was in sixth grade my parents bought a huge barroom piano to fill up some wall space and I couldn’t stop playing it. Guitar is my main instrument right now.

Q) What was your most surprising moment while creating Fifty Miles to Chicago?

A) Working with Dan Lavery as producer opened up a world of incredible musicians that played on the record. I’ve always been a huge fan of Tonic, so even working with Dan was great.

Q) How did you get involved with Art of Elysium? What’s your most memorable experience helping out that great organization?

A) A really good friend of mine, Jen Howell, started the organization 11 years ago, and I go into the hospitals as much as I can when I’m in Los Angeles. As far as the most memorable experience, its hard to say because there are so many amazing moments. Every time I go in I see between 40 and 100 kids depending on the hospital, but there are a few kids I really connect with. There’s this one little boy who I gave my record to right before I left for tour, and when I came back, he was singing every word to every single song. It’s moments like that that really remind me how important it is and how much of a difference you really can make.

Q) What’s next for you? More touring? Another album?

A) All of the above. Its hard for me to plan anything these days, because every time I do, God takes me in another direction. But I can definitely say…more music.

I want to thank Andrew for answering my questions and wish him luck with whatever he ends up doing next!

Be sure to check out Andrew’s album – Fifty Miles to Chicago online or at your favorite brick-and-mortar retailer!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up a copy of Fifty Miles to Chicago at Amazon!

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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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