Wednesday 19 April 2017

[Review] Ruby Friedman Orchestra - Gem

Post by: Montrez Rambo

I don't know what it is about Ruby Friedman that made me fall in love with her upon discovery but I can't leave this woman alone. So, when I found out she was releasing her first full-length album at the end of 2016, I waited with so much anticipation.

1. Fugue in LA Manor - The song is simple piano and vocal though the vocals are sent through filtering to give a timeless sound. The lyrics are a narrative, and tell her back story, a good start to the album.

 2. I am not Your Friend - Can we say dark? The precussion was punchy and rocky, with guitar and blaring mid range vocals. The lyrics again are a narrative and tell a haunting well told story of rape, deceit and taking justice into one's own hand. Her twangy mid-belts don't over do it, selling the narrative with the utmost of conviction.  It was a highlight of the album.

3. Shooting Star - This piece starts off with a ballad-like feel where Ms. Friedman teases tiny bits of her upper middle. It has 70's rock inspired production with a spacey guitar and steady percussion. The lyrics are a contrast to the previous song, about the appreciation of hardships present in love. It's a solid song but following after the previous song did it no justice.

4. Ten Minutes -  Slower, more ballad-like that gives way to a soft rock sound. Lyrically, it my favorite on the whole album. There's a sense of pride, an inability to let go of he remorse she had that prohibits her from being more direct about her intentions. 10 minutes really? Such strong feelings but such a small amount of time? Did you wrong your partner that bad? The vocals drive home the lyrics as she explodes into her upper middle towards the end of the song, contrasting the apprehension in the first half of the song with angst and hints of desperation.

5. Fairfax Fable - Dealing with the aftermath of the previous song, however a more narrative approach. It painted a detailed picture of how she and her love stood no chance at redemption due to her move to LA. It makes me wonder how much of the song is fiction or not, as she moved from Louisiana to Los Angeles a few years ago to follow her dreams as a singer. Another good effort with, melancholic string sections, and vocals only meant to tell the story.

6. The Ballad of Lee Morse - A song with a distinct Western feel, taking on the perspective of a Texan who had a long hard life. The production has nice drama, the vocals being raw, gritty metallic and decidedly mid range. However, there was upper register notes hidden in the background, though heavily altered. These can be heard at the end. The song is a good performer, though, I feel it would have fit better behind "I Am Not Your Friend".

7. Please - A slow, bluesy ballad with a distinct southern soul feel. The vocal were very raw and vulnerable. They paint the sad, though a bit elementary lyrics properly, begging for freedom for self-discovery, a break from a toxic relationship. It's a very good effort though the lyrics weren't my favorite on the album.

8. Cheated - At first I did not like this song but it grew on me after a third listen. It follows the same bluesy, southern sound as the remainder of the album. The lyrics didn't make much sense to me in the beginning. They were about infidelity, yet stooped down to imagery about hell. For whatever reason, I didn't initially see it was about forgiveness, putting the past behind each other, instead of wallowing in pain and letting it allow you to drag each other down to depths, which Ms. Ruby creatively used to describe the lowest depths a relationship could go. This to me is the most lyrically impressive song on the album. The vocals too were really good, delivering upper 5th and 6th octave head notes.

9. I don't Want - It follows the aftermath of the previous song and moving forward. It's a typical rock ballad with more metallic vocals. The lyrics aren't anything to write home about compared to the remainder of the album but fit the narrative well.

10. Lonley Road Symphony Road - A conclusion to the album. It's bluesy, slow and very melancholic with a strong southern feel. The song opens up with warmer than expected head tones. It is followed by lower mid-range. The lyrics are really good, ending the album on a sadder note, the final split of Ruby and her Love after an arduous attempt to remain together.

: The album was good, very good! Tracks tended to sound a bit the same, the constant mid-range singing starting to drone on but the narrative approach, compelling story telling and excellent lyrics made up for the shortcomings. The vocals were raw, real and rather unique, relying heavily on the lower middle voice with a few bouts of explosive upper middle notes placed with good artistic taste and nothing overdone. Overall, the album gets a solid 8/10 rating.

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