Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s CD releases.

Ally Venable, "Heart of Fire" (Ruf Records)- The future of the contemporary blues genre is in safe hands as long as gifted young performers such as Ally Venable are around to keep the flame burning with such power and passion. The talented Texan has found a sympathetic outlet for her gritty musical exploits in Germany's excellent Ruf Records operation, and her second album for the label captures the singer and guitarist in typically uncompromising form as she serves up rootsy gems such as "Played The Game," "Do It In Heels" and "Hateful Blues" for your listening pleasure alongside a soulful revamp of the late great Bill Withers' classic "Use Me."

Lynyrd Skynyrd,”Nothing Comes Easy 1991-2012” (Cherry Red)- Florida rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd were one of the leading lights of the then highly fashionable Southern rock genre until a plane crash in October 1977 claimed the life of their frontman Ronnie Van Zant and seriously injured the remaining members of the band. They were finally tempted to reunite in 1987 with Ronnie’s brother Johnny Van Zant taking over the lead vocalist’s role and “Nothing Comes Easy” focusses attention on their musical output during the next two decades or so. Skynyrd went though quite a few line-up changes during this period and although the various later incarnations of the band were never quite able to recapture former glories in purely commercial terms this excellent 5 CD retrospective is well worth investigating nonetheless.

The Ragtime Rumours,”Abandon Ship” (Ruf Records)-Eclectic Dutch outfit The Ragtime Rumours follow up their acclaimed 2018 debut set “Rag ‘N Roll” with another quirkily memorable exploration of the delights of vintage blues, gypsy jazz and offbeat rock’n’roll. These former buskers happily cite creative influences as diverse as Django Reinhardt, Tom Waits and legenday Mississippi bluesman Robert Johnson and their delightfully open-minded approach to music-making informs stand-out tracks such as “Undressing Me,” “Fieldman Song” and their affectionate revival of Jack Lawrence’s 1940 hit, “Yes, My Darling Daughter.”