Ryan Driver is this unstoppable, quietly torrential flow of music, that has been coming out of Toronto, Ontario for a number of years now. He's been a key member of a number of the most interesting ensembles in the city, including Deep Dark United, The Reveries, The Silt, the Guayaveras, The Fake New Age Music Band, he's worked with Sandro Perri as the duo Double Suicide and Jennifer Castle in Castlemusic, and he has his own mutant jazz standards group, The Ryan Driver Quartet. He plays guitar and sings, but he's also an accomplished improviser, and he can break your heart improvising on a twangy ruler or blowing onto the surface of a rubber balloon. Despite this, you have to listen carefully to hear Ryan, not because he's difficult to hear, but because he's not about to show himself off. He's there if you want to hear him. And now, this is his first solo record, which features some songs he's been singing for a while. The songs here are mostly folk/country ballads from an imaginary country: they sound like JJ Cale, Joao Gilberto, John Martyn, soft but powerful and precise. But there's also live favorite "Spinning Towers" which is given an anthemic rock treatment, and "Why the Road?" which slowly shifts from folksong to hazy "Rock Bottom" period Robert Wyatt mysticism. Toronto's alt.folk queen Jennifer Castle duets with Ryan on the opening "You Are Beside Me". Various members of the Rat-Drifting group, including Eric Chenaux and Martin Arnold drop in to play some guitar too. Ryan always sounds like he has come a long way to sing you a song. His voice contains vast North American distances, long cold winters, the endless ugly monotony of the country, which can be broken and dissipated only by beer, love and music. He is always arriving too late or too early, and what he sings about is always to be found somewhere else, somewhere where he's not. Even when he sings jazz standards, the music isn't nostalgic or pessimistic, in fact you can't tell whether he's talking about the past or the future. Soft, sad, determined … the fact that he's here now, singing these songs is, for those that need such things, a sign of great hope. And that's why this really is a "Feeler of Pure Joy".
- Marcus Boon