Mark Ripp – Quiet Again (own label MR30004-2)

Mark RippSometimes an album turns up that is such a delight that you need to share the news. Quiet Again is one such. Mark is from Toronto and has worked with The Bel-Vistas and The Confessors over the last twenty years but this is a return to basics. It started out as an acoustic guitar work but Mark has added overdubs so the record is not minimal urban-Americana but rocks like stink when it needs to and every note is his own.

Many of his songs are based on everyday observations and thoughts. ‘Old Weeping Birch’ is a perfect example as the writer contemplates a tree in the yard that is older than he is and wonders if it will ever be necessary for him to cut it down. ‘Bumble Along’ is, appropriately, an almost random selection of ideas and events and ‘No One Else But You’ is a simple and tender love song.

This may sound a little like navel-gazing but, to disabuse you of this notion, at number four is the album’s real killer, ‘Ballad Of Canadian Soldier X’. It’s the story of a young man, disillusioned in love, who joins the army purely out of boredom. You can probably see where this is going. He’s sent to Afghanistan and has an encounter with an IED. What is significant is that the song doesn’t end in screaming anger but in a sort of resigned determination.

There are more delights. ‘Bob Dylan’ isn’t actually about the man but is a self-deprecating account of Mark himself in which His Bobness is a reference point – nice idea – and ‘Duct Tape Jesus’ is illustrated on the back cover. Whether Mark saw these images somewhere and was prompted to write the song is not divulged but it says a lot in a few short verses. His cover of the Beach Boys’ ‘In My Room’ fits the introspective nature of the album very well.

Quiet Again is available as a download in the UK but if you require a physical copy you’ll have to go further afield and buy direct from Mark’s website where, incidentally, you can also stream tracks.

Dai Jeffries

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