Barb Ryman | Lay Me Open

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United States - Minnesota

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Folk: Modern Folk Folk: Gentle Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Lay Me Open

by Barb Ryman

The CD that put Ryman on the map in Minneapolis. A top 10 release across all genres, leading Twin Cities columnist Jim Walsh to write: “You can’t help being amazed at the power of her presence and the sound of your voice. You can’t help but listen.”
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lay Me Open
4:47 $0.99
2. Maggie Of The Street
4:13 $0.99
3. All I Ever Really Wanted
4:10 $0.99
4. Moving Out
2:07 $0.99
5. Bureaucracy
3:34 $0.99
6. Playing For Two
3:13 $0.99
7. Love Gone Wrong
3:48 $0.99
8. Broken Families
3:19 $0.99
9. Don't Know Till You Try
3:19 $0.99
10. Letting Go
4:17 $0.99
11. All American Dysfunctional Family
2:50 $0.99
12. To The Ends Of The World
2:37 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Lay Me Open - Reviews:

"Ryman took a 20-year break from songwriting and consequently didn't make her stage debut until she was 40. But in the past few years, this coffeehouse folkie has been making up for lost time. This sophomore CD is a well-crafted collection of unexpected songs about diverting topics: university and hospital bureaucracy, playing to tiny crowds and a crazy street person named Maggie. Ryman has a clear and winsome voice, a ready sense of humor, a short-story writer's flair for detail and an excellent cast of local supporting musicians."
Tom Surowic
Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Lay Me Open, the second release by Minneapolis area singer-songwriter Barb Ryman, includes a dozen original songs wiht a mixture of humor ("Bureaucracy"), pathos ("Broken Families"), portraits of broken relationships ("All I Ever Really Wanted"), and contemporary country blues ("Moving Out"). "Playing For Two" captures perfectly the experience most folkies have had playing for a tiny, but very appreciative, audience. The instrumental accompaniment and production are tasteful, but understated on this finely-crafted release."
Dirty Linen

"The titles are pure country-folk ("Don't Know Till You Try," "All I Ever Really Wanted"), but the themes are wrenchingly contemporary: broken families, a female street person, university bureaucracy. This is Ryman's sophomore release which in the tradition of Christine Lavin, uses spoonfuls of humor to help the tough worldview go down. From "Love Gone Wrong" to the sprightly shuffle of "Moving Out," the sweet voice and light instumental touch bring calm to the tumultuous personal and political events she describes."
Sing Out!

"...A well crafted collection of unexpected songs about diverting topics: university and hospital bureaucracy, playing to tiny crowds and a crazy street person named Maggie. Ryman has a clear and winsome voice, a ready sense of humor, and a short story writer's flair for detail."
Tom Surowicz, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Besides an unaffected sense of humor, Ryman possesses a sharp eye for social criticism and a truly moving compassion for human struggle..."
City Pages (Mpls/St Paul)

"If you're not thoroughly charmed by Ryman's Christine Lavin-like song about a struggling career as a neo-folkie, 'Playing For Two', then adjust your nose ring and stick with grunge."
Twin Cities Reader

Here's what else the critics are saying about Barb Ryman:

"You can't help being amazed at the power of her presence and the sound of her voice. You can't help but listen."
Jim Walsh, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Full review at

"...charming vulnerability and a rare knack for detailing the profound truths of everyday life. Her clear, ringing voice was reminiscent of Sandy Denny or Iris Dement."
Jim Meyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Barb Ryman proves herself a strong vocalist, talented composer, and an astutely irreverent student of the human condition."
Dirty Linen


Barb Ryman - singer songwriter, cultural critic, love junkie - is a native tall Texan who has lived most of her life in the Twin Cities as a short person. Inspired by a too early midlife crisis, Barb first took the stage as a songwriter at the age of 40. With that debut performance she found herself a finalist in the nationally endorsed Fine Line Songwriter Competition. Three years later she was nominated for the 1994 Minnesota Music Award, Songwriter of the Year, and again in 1996. Her CD, Lay Me Open, was recognized as exceptional by the Minneapolis Star Tribune and put on the top ten list across all genres. The St. Paul Pioneer Press called it a "heart-on-sleeve triumph" and also listed it in their top releases. It was nominated for the 1996 Minnesota Music Award for Best Folk Recording.

Barb lays her insightful, witty lyrics into a rich mosaic of contemporary folk, gentle rock, and country blues, delivering it all with a clear, compelling voice. Her fingerstyle guitar is sweet, complimenting the compassionate underpinnings of her songs. Committed to living life authentically, Barb's music is passionate, spiritual, tender, and rebellious, capable of distilling and undercutting the myths of our times. Her love songs detour from sentimental cliché and speak directly to the risks and vulnerabilities. Her lyrical stories circumvent conformity, drawing from a deep emotional well where only the brave go. All this she balances with her gift for musical humor, keeping fans laughing with satires like "Ode to Low Self-Esteem" and "Playing For Two." Barb gently charms every audience she meets with her sincerity and playful stage banter.

Always attracted to music, Barb started to compose when she could play her first two chords and feel two conflicting emotions simultaneously. Inspired by the 60's folk revolution, she was playing the coffeehouses by high school and college but kept original compositions to herself. Succumbing to societal pressures to get a "real job" Barb's music went into the closet, literally. After 15 years of marriage, two above average children, and a successful career as a speech pathologist, Barb could no longer ignore the feeling that something was missing. She pulled her guitar out of the closet and started composing. It was her musical coming out. Barb describes it as exploding out, "You can't repress 20 years of your musical soul and expect it to trickle out. I was writing song after song after song."

Barb has performed throughout the Midwest and beyond at concert series, folk festivals, and radio shows. She has shared the stage Cheryl Wheeler, Robin & Linda Williams, Les Sampou, and Cozy Sheridan, to name a few. Her songs have aired on folk programs across the nation, and in parts of Europe and Australia. She now has four recordings, Winds of Good Fortune (1993), Lay Me Open (1995), Like A Tree (1998), and her new release, Falling Down To Heaven (2002), produced by percussionist, Marc Anderson, and featuring a cast of top-notch guest musicians including Dean Magraw, Peter Ostroushko, and Celtic virtuoso, John Williams.



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