CD REVIEW: Ryan Montbleau "Stages: Volume II"

Voice and guitar is all that is needed to create an excellent album. This, the second installment of Ryan Montbleau's live series "Stages," is a stunning collection of gems from Monbleau's catalogue. Several of the best performances on the album come from tracks off of Montbleau's last full band release, showing off that they are not only filled with musical excellence, but lyrical excellence as well. "75 And Sunny," which features guest vocals from Amber Rubarth, really shows off how great a songwriter that Montbleau actually is, as the words he sings are the highlight of the song. The album finishes up with an acoustic studio recording of a new song called "More And More And More" and also features a cover of a Paul Simon song. You can really get an idea of how great he is as a performer as well, as the album is filled with the lovely sounds of the audience from each of the shows that the compilation was pulled from. Montbleau really shows off his core as a performing singer/songwriter, making this album one of the best live releases of 2009.