Reviews & Suggestions

CD Review: Ray Flanagan and the Authorities S/T

Sometimes a person gets the bug to become a musician by following others who make music their livelihoods. Such is the case with Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Ray Flanagan. It was partially because of another Clevelander named Roger Hoover that Flanagan is the musician he is today.

While the years have passed since Ray Flanagan was learning how to create a sound that people would enjoy, Flanagan has since created an entire library of original music available on several albums. The latest album release from Flanagan was released with a band called the Authorities, a band that, aside from Ray Flanagan himself on guitar and vocals, includes: David Alan Shaw on guitar, some auxiliary instrumentation; Russell Flanagan on keys; Joe Botta – bass; and Dragon Phoenix on drums, percussion.

Together, Ray Flanagan & the Authorities spent several months in residence at a Cleveland, Ohio music venue called The Happy Dog. During that time, songs were created and then recorded, with the entire project being produced with the help of the band’s lead guitarist, David Alan Shaw. Eventually, enough songs from that residency were compiled to create a new EP. That seven-song self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities was just celebrated at a CD Release party for the EP.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities begins with the track “Morning Light”. The track features a Folk-Rock feel to the music with a stress on the Rock side of things. The track’s Folk-Rock sound brings to mind the sound and feel of the sixties/seventies Folk-Rock band known as The Byrds. It is the jangly feel of the piano on the track along with the guitar playing that is somewhat reminiscent of Roger McGuinn that mainly brings the style of The Byrds to mind when the listener checks out the track. With its light, folky delivery, “Morning Light” feels both modern and retro at the same time.

“Morning Light’s” Folk-Rock feel is replaced with a stronger Rock and Roll approach on the next track called “Fun & Phony”. The stronger Rock and Roll approach of the track would place it right in the middle of the Rock and Roll style that was part of the decade of the eighties. The stronger guitar-driven track has a sound and style that brings to mind something from the Scottish Rock band of Big Country. In fact, the “Fun & Phony” track has a sound that will remind fans of the Scottish band of the song “King of Emotion” from the Peace in Our Time album. The overall eighties feel of the track puts the track into a “timeless” category where fans of any style of Rock and Roll will enjoy the track.

As the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities continues, more and more influences come out, which adds to the timeless feel of the Rock and Roll that makes up the seven-song release. “Undercover” is another case where the band creates a track that overflows with influence. The Rock and Roll style of the song takes the track into a slightly more recent musical era. The feel of the music on “Undercover” seems to draw from bands like The Gin Blossoms, The Goo Goo Dolls, and maybe even Toad the Wet Sprocket.

After several tracks of music that feature an ensemble feel to the songs, Ray Flanagan creates the track “The Year Ahead”. Unlike the previous four songs, “The Year Ahead” comes with a completely different musical approach. Where the other songs feature Flanagan and the rest of The Authorities, “The Year Ahead” is a solo piece featuring only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The resulting Folk feel of the song gives the song an Old Timey feel, making the song feel much older than the rest of the release. But that completely different feel of the song gives the listener another perspective on Flanagan’s writing style.

Staying in that Old Timey mindset of “The Year Ahead,” the next track of “Headed Home” is yet another solo piece on the EP that features only Flanagan and his acoustic guitar. The slow pace and gentle feel of the song brings to mind someone like James Taylor who has been known for his laidback style on many of his songs. “Headed Home” from Ray Flanagan is very reminiscent of Taylor’s style.

Ray Flanagan returns the EP to a more ensemble feel as the Authorities return on the final track of “Glue”. Along with the band, Flanagan is joined on backing vocals by yet another performer from the Cleveland Music Scene known as Emily Keener. With the rest of the band back for this song and adding Keener’s vocals to the song, “Glue” is one of the more unique tracks on the release. The song features a style that blends several different musical references together, creating a track with a definite Americana feel to it. “Glue” ends up being perhaps the most unique sounding track on the seven-song release from the band.

The self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities comes complete with many different styles through the EP’s seven tracks. And with the fact that the seven songs included on the release were created while the ensemble was “in residence” at Cleveland’s The Happy Dog, it’s easy to see why the EP feels so different from one track to the next. But that variety helps to show off the talents of the various members of the Authorities and Ray Flanagan himself. As a first release for the band as a collective, the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities is a good indicator of what’s to come.    


To check out the music from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, check out the song “Fun and Phony” off of the band’s self-titled release.

To check out the self-titled release from Ray Flanagan & the Authorities, click on the album cover below: