Cory Ryan
"Blank Slate"

(Self-Released 2004)Cory Ryan - Blank Slate

Here we have "Blank Slate," a full-length collection of competently played, professionally produced, artistically unremarkable light-alternative ballads sung by a vocalist with an appealingly manly, but not overly husky, voice. Now all we need is for the WB network to come up with another primetime teen drama to stick these songs in the soundtrack of, and Cory Ryan will be a superstar in no time.

[Referee blows whistle]

Okay, okay -- I'm being unfair. "Blank State" does have a few flashes of personality and style mixed in with the milquetoast. The gloriously soaring synthesizer and distorted drum crashes on the intro and bridge of the first song, "Far From Good", makes you think you're in for some really sublime, Verve / Spiritualized space rock, a hope kept alive by a few nicely anthemic lines in the chorus ("Oh-oh / everybody knows / it's good until it goes to your head"). Sadly, from there the album plunges into a morass of trite, teenage emotion ("I'll be your anything / anything at all") and paint-by-numbers soft-rock arrangements that beg to be played in the background while some TV starlet cries crocodile tears --

[Referee blows whistle again, flashes yellow card]

Hold on, I was just about to say something complimentary! {Ahem} Anyhow, the disc drags for awhile before rebounding with "Good Now That You're Gone", a raunchy roadhouse jump-n-jiver that the Stray Cats wouldn't be ashamed to cover. Cory's whisky howl before the cool banjo break is enough to suggest that there may be hope for Mr. Ryan yet if tomorrow he were to start drinking heavily and go country.

From there, though, the album pulls back into the middle of the road. With the campy but charming exception of "Fair Weather Friend", which has Cory crooning sadly over a piano like a drunken Billy Joel in an empty lounge at 4 a.m., the remainder of the tracks all seem to be auditioning for teen-soap soundtracks. And what can one say about any song that begins with the couplet "Lau-ren / You're pushing me around ah-genn"?

[Referee flashes red card. Critic is sent to penalty box, where James Taylor's greatest hits are piped in at maximum volume. Cory Ryan's "Blank Slate" receives a positive review by default.]


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