REVIEW: Ricky Warwick – When Patsy Cline Was Crazy / Hearts On Trees

Ricky Warwick, one of our many talented home grown rock and roll stars has stepped aside from the ranks of Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy to bring us his own collection of songs.

The Belfast born singer songwriter has put together a double album, part one showcasing his straight up electric rock n roll roots, with comparisons to the sounds of Thin Lizzy and BSR. Meanwhile part two, Hearts on Trees, tends to sway more towards a simpler style of songwriting, directly influenced by his own experiences living in America and Northern Ireland.

Although the album has given the front man his opportunity to break away from the title of Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders, that does not stop this album from boasting an array of amazing musical talent featuring alongside the Irishman for some songs. Names such as Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders) Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol) Richard Fortus (Guns ‘N’ Roses/The Dead Daisies) Billy Morrison (Billy Idol) Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) and Andy Cairns (Therapy?) all appear on the tracks within this album. A pretty impressive group to have featuring, I’m sure any rock and roll fan will agree.


The double album holds some monstrous rock n roll songs, flying out of the traps from the offset with ‘The Road To Damascus Street‘, setting up a trend of hard hitting, head banging tunes, filled to the brim with those familiar vocals of Ricky himself, that at times pay tribute to those of Phil Lynott. Face melting guitar solos, rocking power riffs, gut shaking bass lines and throttling drum fills also run a riot throughout the album, a prime example of which is shown on the track titled ‘If You’re Not Gonna Leave Me‘. The first part of the double album seems to be a collection of songs equally as personal as the second half, made for the big crowds that want to sing back and go crazy, sticking to the more familiar version of Ricky Warwick, that guitar wielding front man keeping classic rock and roll alive.

With part one of this double album ringing in our ears, thanks to its loud rock n roll heights, Ricky kicks off the second part of the album, a collection of acoustic songs, in what would seem equally as aggressive manner, however this time picking up an acoustic guitar instead. The rocky blues track of ‘Presbyterian Homesick Blues‘, heavily influenced by the experiences of our little corner of the world, provides an honest opening song, with lyrics that will hit home of any Belfast inhabitant and have you hitting that repeat button for sure.


The album goes on to provide us with a really stripped back version of Ricky, with heartfelt acoustic songs like ‘82‘, dishing out what seems to be very personal thoughts and stories. The songs remain very much rocky however, not swaying from his roots, its as if rock and roll decided to just whisper for the second half of the album, creating some beautifully composed songs wrapped around those brutally honest lyrics.

This form of songwriting is a rare commodity in today’s music scene, with not many artists today being able to pull such an album off (never mind a double album!). The album is a true testament to the talents of Ricky Warwick, showcasing just how brilliant of a songwriter the man is. Yeah it has everything we would expect from him, in terms of those classic rock n roll riffs, the moments that provide us with nostalgic thoughts of Thin Lizzy, but the album holds so much more than just that. It’s more like a biography, a collection of songs that show how the front man was shaped into the figure he is today. Think, if Van Morrison had an equally as talented, rockier, tattooed covered brother that just released an album.