Ruby Tiger - Vistas
Ruby Tiger may not, as yet, be a familiar name, at least outside of their local scene on the south coast. However their release of a debut EP, entitled Vistas, could see all that change, as more people will get to discover their individual blend of roots, blues and jazz.
It’s always difficult to describe something that so effectively straddles so many musical niches. Here it’s clear that the core is old school swing blues of the kind you’s associate with Dinah Washington or Bessie Smith, but that there’s a blend between that and some old school jazz and traditional songwriting. It’s a blend that feels instantly familiar, you’re at home listening to this record, it feels natural and organic, as if it has always been around around.
Most of the songs are originals, and they show off an adept and intelligent lyricist. There’s a poetry here, with words that flow with the rhythm of the piece rather than being shoe-horned into place. Each track is a carefully considered piece of storytelling, there are little plot twists and surprises and it all makes for something rather different to the massed ranks of modern music.
Performance wise the musicians fit the material like a glove. Intelligently performed and underrated, it’s a perfect foil for Ruby’s vocals. I get the sense she’s holding back a lot from what she could do technically and the subsequent benefit to the emotional content is high. Somehow she seems to reach out to the listener and find a shared perspective on the subjects on which her songs dwell. Her regular musical foil, King Rollo, also turns in a hugely involving performance on guitar, resisting the urge to splurge notes to fill every gap and providing tasteful solos only where they will have the most impact.
This is a stunning debut, understated and moving, but without relying on flash to deliver it’s impact. It’s layered and rich, and a great showcase for an emerging talent. On this evidence Ruby is going to be gaining some serious attention, even if it’s only for the beautiful way she introduces vibrato to the final note of Best Friend which ranks as one of 2014’s most magical musical moments.