Setting off on a journey down some lonesome and dusty one way trail out West, the first half of Who's Breathing?, the debut solo offering from Ryan Driver is unmistakeably country and folk in its make-up.

Lap-steel slide, lazy tempos, a whole lot of crazy finger picking and something of the very essence of US roots music offers a perfect wall for the young singer and guitarist to throw a series of vocal styles against. It all sticks, resulting in a markedly unique and noteworthy recording.

From the uber-Americana of opening track 'Dead End Street' through the melancholy of 'Am I Still Too Late?' and the sweet church organ led 'Tell Me True' to the incredible, twisting composition 'Everything Must Spin' with Appalachian style fingerwork and double stacked melody line that twists and turns throughout, Driver's voice glides from that of a laid back storyteller to powerful lyrical poet.

There are times when Drivers channels Paul Simon, Jeff Buckley and Scott Matthews in tone and delivery and occasions where an old-time weariness dominates before fading to give way to fragility and youth.

Just as the album succeeds in establishing itself as a distinctive slice of American folk, the cue for change appears half-way point with rolling jazz piano and soft snare brushes in 'It's Tulip Season' signalling a slow-down for Driver and a switch to a bluesy smoky Billy Holliday type sound.

Enter Ryan Driver the balladeer and jazzman, pulling off subtle shades of Hall and Oates' blue-eyed soul in 'Dont Want To Leave You Without You', adopting gentle falsetto for 'Whether They Like It Or Not' and dropping some serious synth noodling over what sounds like a jazz standard instrumental in 'When Now Turns To Never'.

There is an unexpected success in this album of essentially two mostly different halves - still growing after six or seven plays - surely a result of an unusual and warming vocal charm that suitsr country, jazz, folk or blues music. The fact that according to his record label, Driver who hails from Toronto, has played in many of the city's most interesting bands is not surprising - keep an eye on this guy, he's a musical chameleon worth following.

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