EDWINA HAYES – Ruby Rose (own label TWIRL03CD)

Ruby RoseReleased last Christmas, this is something of a belated review but, given the ten years between albums (though she was part of The Miles Roses 2017 album), it seems a rather negligible delay and, besides which, coverage of Ruby Rose has been criminally sparse. Born in Ireland, raised in Preston and now based in Driffield, if you could synthesise the voice of Nanci Griffith with a tinge of Baez, soak it in honey and air it in a summer breeze, then you’d get a good idea of what she sounds like (her live bubbly between song banter is more Kate Rusby) and why a lot more people should be aware of her.

Comprising songs written over the years, including four originating from her Nashville sessions, and featuring Jake McKeague on guitar, it mixes her own material with some well-judged covers that give a flavour of her live shows. Titled for her new niece, the album opens with two of her own, first up being ‘New Day’, an optimistic make a new start number about rising above your fears and moving on, followed by the rippling fingerpicking Spanish guitar sounds and vocals of the end of love ‘I Can’t Believe’, one of the acoustic Nashville tracks, co-writer Carissa Broadwater on harmonies.

The first cover is a fine simple acoustic picked reading of Jon Byrd’s ‘Stay’, the others lining up in equally  glowing style as Dougie Maclean’s ‘Caledonia’,  Richard Thompson’s ‘Galway To Graceland’, a beautiful take on Shawn Colvin’s ‘I Don’t Know Why’ and, showing her eclecticism, the geographically challenged (“See the pyramids along the Nile”) evergreen 50s ballad ‘You Belong To Me’ (which, if you listen, is a rather not too romantic warning to the narrator’s lover not to screw around while they’re apart) and the frustrated gold-digger’s ‘Waiting For The Guy To Die’ by the late American songwriter humourist Kacey Jones the title of which pretty much speaks for itself.

As indeed does ‘Aunty Brenda’s Song’, a loving family tribute (“your smile will keep on shining, your light will never fade”) that also serves a testimonial to getting through hard times (“it’s alright to be afraid of all the things that we can’t change… all the good times that we had are a testament to everyone of us and everything we have”). There’s a further six originals, the next up being two further Nashville numbers, ‘Want You To Stay’ (“I’d rather look a fool than never have tried”) with its circling fingerpicked guitar pattern and, a co-write with Tony Armani, the be who I am ‘Tony’s Tune’.

Showing her early 20th century jazz colours, ‘Ain’t It Sweet’ has a kind of Ralph McTell ragtime feel, while the last of the Nashville four, ‘Won Me Over’ is a lilting love song of surrender, an equally disarming sentiment to be found on the simple but infectious ‘Please Don’t Take Me Home’ (“you can take me anywhere you want but please don’t take me home”) that I could hear Dolly Parton singing. The final self-penned track, the acoustic plugged in, is the reflective, goodbye (for a while) song, ‘Whisky Days’, the album ending with a bonus track, the fiddle-accompanied ‘No Sweeter Lady’, sung not by her but, taken from his 2010 album The Wreckers, by David Ward Maclean who wrote it for her as a Christmas gift.

Hayes promises that her next album won’t take anywhere as near as long to appear. I’d recommend you joining the front of the queue.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.edwinahayes.com

‘Waiting For The Guy To Die’ – live: