MELISSA RUTH – Bones (no label details)

BonesReplete with Americana tinged instrumentation and lyrics coloured by vast historical context, singer, songwriter, and music educator Melissa Ruth’s latest effort, Bones, take listeners on an explorative journey through what Ruth herself describes as North-Country Western music.

In spite of the singer’s own northern roots, the arrangements and songwriting throughout Bones seem to more-than-convincingly convey the well-worn hardship of the deep American south. One can almost hear Kentucky mud being tracked across the floor within the swaying, hymn-like passages of ‘Wild Roses’, the tune’s name checking of the decidedly northwestern state of Idaho notwithstanding.

The ache and longing relayed in ‘Nashi Lyudi’ pull at the heartstrings, and the deep emotion of the author can be felt through the soulful vocalization of passages like, “you didn’t want me to know the pain of a child, merciless and wild. No, you didn’t want me to know. But your protection, it felt like rejection”.

Numbers such as the driving ‘Yoncalla Moon’ – one of several references to Ruth’s present-day home in the state of Oregon to be found throughout Bones – pick up the pace while maintaining the reliably rustic atmosphere which permeates the proceedings.

While acoustic guitar can often be heard occupying centre-stage instrumentally throughout the album, tastefully executed, blues-infused lead phrases can be heard punctuating the work in tandem with effective organ swells as heard on pieces like ‘Holding The Light’ and the subtly jazzy title track.

Listeners become acquainted with Ruth by proxy over the course of the record’s tight, ten-song track list. The songs found on Bones present as narratively layered, and one suspects that the music will have even more to reveal for those willing to engage in repeat listens.

What Ruth brings to the table with her latest effort is a unique perspective and presentation of musical forms whose respective origins predate the ideals upon which a great deal of modern society as a whole has been constructed. It is an affair simultaneously personal and undeniably broad in cultural scope, acting as a worthwhile listen for discerning fans of an array of musical genres.

Cameron Gunnoe

Artist’s website:

‘Edith Piaf’ – official video: