Ralph This Is For the Night People

A haunting mixture of moody jazz, soft-spoken, cigarette-burned poetry and exquisite lyrics, this fourth release by the Vancouver-based Ralph is cool, dark and heady. Vocalist and lyricist Ralph Alfonso leads an impressive combination of musicians (Michael "Evil Twang" Rummen, Graham "Skaboom, Powder Blues" Howell and John "Ray Condo" Cody, among others) and instruments (bongos, sax, flute, Hammond B3) in a swirl of spoken word beat dreams. The odes to the beats, from the finger-snaps, sax solos, hi-hats and obscure haiku on "John Coltrane New York City" to the rendition of the Ginsberg/Kerouac "Pull My Daisy," breezes through the album like the smoke from a wet pair of ravaged lungs, full of life and staggering like a drunk through the streets of a dirty and beautiful city. Almost every poem-song is a broken hearted salute to cigarettes, NYC, jazz and dark grey clouds hovering gloomily overhead. In so many ways utterly cool and accomplished, Ralph can pull off an excellent album without a trace of pretension or self-parody. Beautiful, romantic, intelligent and fatally decadent. (Bongo Beat)