Collie Ryan released three private press LPs in the early 1970s before dropping off the grid to spend her days painting hubcaps in the desert. Released with the help of some friends who ran a juice company and sold only at shows and shops in and around Southern California, "Takin' Your Turn 'Round the Corner of Day," "Indian Harvest" and "The Giving Tree" were slight in stature, and yet showcased the beautiful depth of Ryan's honey-soaked voice and intuitive, singular finger-picking style.
Though those three LPs fell into one of time's many cracks, her inclusion on the Numero Group's great 2006 compilation "Ladies from the Canyon" brought her sound to a whole new audience. Now, following up on the LP comes "The Rainbow Records," a three disc set that presents her albums in their entirety for the first time since original release. A gifted vocalist and passionate lyricist, Ryan's music sits easily with the acid folk set, yet the simplicity and conviction of her work makes for music that sounds surprisingly timeless today.
All released in 1973, Ryan's three albums were selected from hundreds of songs that she tended to write as a result of intense philosophical discussions. And while it covers three distinct releases, "The Rainbow Records" flows beautifully, effortlessly conveying the clarity of Ryan's artistic vision while providing a window into her spiritual dialogues.
There's a gorgeous shimmer to tracks like "The Giving Tree's, I'd Ask You to Wait" and "Lark Flies," both showcasing the ways in which her soaring voice weaves over and under the nylon strings of her guitar. More urgent songs tend to dot "Indian Harvest," as we travel deeper into Ryan's world, with both the title track and songs like "Brother Sun -Sister Moon" displaying a marked emotional complexity.
Highlighting some of her strongest material, "Takin' Your Turn 'Round the Corner of the Day" closes out the set, shining a light on the soaring "High Gulls Flying" and "Chalice of Light," in which her voice almost seems to descend from the clouds. Better still is "Such a Soft and Sudden Calling," a track that introduces the gentle crash of waves to the mix, providing a natural accompaniment to the ethereal reverb of Ryan's voice. Solid end to end, fans of outsider folkies like Linda Perhacs and Sibylle Baier would do well to make some room for Collie Ryan's "The Rainbow Records" on their playlists.
-Michael Crumsho (November 5, 2009)