If Ricky Byrd wasn’t born to rock, suffice it to say he was raised in its service. After all, he’s the guy who contributed the monster power chords that jumpstarted Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” an affirmative anthem if ever there was one. His website boasts photos of him with Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Steve Marriott and Ian Hunter, which means that even if he didn’t have the know-how to get those gigs, he sure knows a great photo op when he sees one.
Byrd’s devotion to duty is eloquently expressed on his long overdue debut outing, and specifically its lead-off track, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boys.” Here he offers more than a hint of true confession: “Girls all wanted… Rock ‘n’ Roll boys… I gotta be one of the Rock ‘n’ Roll boys.” And indeed, if Byrd seems solely motivated by masculine urges, it’s hard to fault him on follow-through; from his spiked hair to his sheer bravado, all the proper instincts seem to be in play.
The songs themselves bring an air of familiarity as well, with Byrd’s coarse vocals channelling Mr. Hunter on the aforementioned opener and then meandering into a soulful Rod Stewart/Faces vein for “Foolish Kind,” “Ways of a Woman” and “Wide Open.” From the loose and limber late night rocker “Let’s Get Gone” to the funk and swagger of “Dream Big” and the strut and sway of “Married Man,” Byrd makes it clear he knows of what he sings and that he is indeed that dedicated soul referred to in the album title. With that kind of conviction, this Lifer has no hope of ever winning parole.
DOWNLOAD: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Boys,” “Let’s Get Gone,” “Ways of a Woman” –LEE ZIMMERMAN