Ryan Shaw went on a journey into America's cultural past and came back with a sound for today - and tomorrow. On This Is Ryan Shaw, this 26-year-old singer reinvents the music of the Golden Age of Rhythm & Blues - defined, in this case, as the years from 1960-1972. Without excessive showmanship or pointless over-elaboration, Ryan sings with a sense of passionate commitment that has nearly vanished from the American pop music landscape.
Just when you thought the 21st century retro-R&B revolution was grinding to a sunken-hearted halt, Ryan Shaw comes along and revives the revivalist moment: This Is Ryan Shaw
, the 26-year-old's phenomenal debut, dazzles not just because he can sing a song like Bobby Womack's "Lookin' for a Love" without letting the rear-view mirror leach him of his own soul, but because his originals--first single "Nobody," "We Got Love," and set closer "Over and Done"--convincingly replicate the classic sound of such forebears as Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Wilson Pickett. Here's a man who can plead, please, and play out love-struck dramas with his voice as though the '60s never ended; if his sound borrows heavily, it pays back what it owes with genuine contributions to the genre. Shaw's is real R&B without the raunch--a return to uplift too self-respecting and sincere to land on the retread pile. --Tammy La Gorce