Richard Ruane

Things That Strangers Say

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Vermont folk artist Richard Ruane weighs in with a sturdy collection of originals (and the Fairport Convention number "Crazy Man Michael") on Things That Strangers Say. The album is an uplifting set, spurred to life by Ruane's baritone -- which steers dangerously close to that of James Taylor -- and nimble fingerpicking. Some highlights include the benign determination of "A Heart That's Open Wide," the evocative bleakness of "Rapid City," and the sprightly bounce of "Bartender." Ruane can verge on saccharine folkiness at times with tunes such as "Joy That Carries Me" and "Old Lovers," but possesses enough charisma to pull it off safely. (Besides, you've got to love a guy who provides such wry professional commentary as "Well-Meaning Folks With Guitars.") This is recommended for fans of folk music of decidedly non-edgy ilk.

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