Imagine a world in which Eve unashamedly consumed the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, biting into knowledge and sharing it with all the world. Feminist folk ensemble Ruby Mack imagine themselves direct descendants of that particular Eve. Named for Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley’s prominent Ruby McIntosh Apple, Emma Ayres (Vocals/guitar), Abbie Duquette (bass uke), Zoe Young (guitar/vocals), and Abs Kahler (fiddle) question what it means to be a woman, and in the case of Kahler, move in and out of the label with ease on their new album Devil Told Me. Throughout Devil Told Me, out October 23rd, Ruby Mack offers new perspectives on old stories, from societal norms to Greek mythology. The first glimpse into Ruby Mack’s Devil Told Me storytelling comes in the form of ‘Machine Man’, which Kahler calls “ an ode to the blue-collar workers, the skilled laborers, without whom the fabric of the lives we live would surely unravel.” This week, Farce The Music premiered ‘Machine Man’, praising Ruby Mack’s “unabashed harmonies and pictorial lyricism”.
Through Ruby Mack’s collectively unique lens, folk songs start to emerge cast in a new, different light than those that came before. In the song ‘Breadwinner’, for example, the group flips the script about gender roles in a relationship, expressing their wish to be a breadwinner as a woman. “I wanna be your breadwinner / Let me feed you, let me feed you now”, the group sings in heart-stopping four-part harmony. The lullaby-esque ‘Milktooth’ is a quiet anthem about shedding societal expectations, to become fully one’s self. It uses the idea of a milk tooth, or baby tooth, as a metaphor for attachment to a childhood based perspective. “It’s about rejecting the ways in which we are initially told who we are and what we are” explains Ayres “Always fighting in this civil war/ Since the devil told me I was born a girl”, they sing.
Ruby Mack credits the magic of the Massachusetts area they call home with inspiring their musical journey. “There’s such an amazing culture of folk music in the valley”, says Kahler, “and we’ve been inspired by so many queer folk artists here.” “I definitely found my identity as a musician in this place”, adds Duquette. “The support encouragement I found in the area made me feel like I too could be an artist.”
Recorded in an old converted church with engineer Andrew Oedel of Ghost Hit Recording, Devil Told Me has a decidedly live feel. “We really wanted it to have that special magic of a collaborative performance, and the energy we get from singing together”, explains Young. With strong and beautiful vocal harmonies, soothing guitar, and soaring fiddle lines, Ruby Mack have created a collection of songs both confessional and uplifting. In each other and their music the four friends have found a home in which they can question everything that society expects of them, live and express themselves in their true identity, and inspire others to do the same.
Artists’ website: rubymackfolk.com