In recent years, the discussions around female vocalists have been about the battle between the Adeles and the Florence Welchs; the soulful and the creatively powerful.
But in the periphery there are those vocalists and singer-songwriters who aren’t in the limelight, but their voices are the ones that carry us through our days when the dramatics of the super-famous gets too much.
One such artist is Ruby Gill, whose tender voice is both refreshing and polished.
Her second album, To Risk Our Hearts, is a collection of stories from this slight little woman from Pietermaritzburg.
With glasses and loose strands of hair framing her face, she doesn’t have much presence – I mean she’s just like any other young woman – but it’s when she sings you see how enigmatic she really is.
To Risk Our Hearts is a personal album with songs about her life, her loves, her experiences and thoughts told in a very close and personal manner. There are no allegories or elaborate frills. It’s just her with her magnificent voice, reminiscent of Missy Higgins, Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, but a less imaginative St. Vincent.
Her lyrics are easy listening and come from an open and honest place without forcing it. It’s almost as if this album just happened by doing nothing at all, yet in this doing nothing, it speaks volumes about her talent.
First single, Three Sixty Five, is a story about a year-long love story and introduces you beautifully to what Ruby Gill is about. Simplistic guitar and piano lend themselves toward uplifting her tender vocals.
Happiness is an off-beat and quirky song with delicate harmonies set to the backdrop of gentle guitar.
My favourite is Underground, which is her sterling voice wrapped around delicate piano and the easy introduction of drums and guitar. It’s the fullest-sounding song on the album.
Lover is minimalistic, with nothing but Ruby’s voice and piano with subtle harmonies lacing through the song.
The entire album is along the same vein; it’s a collection of songs without the noise that permeates so many popular songs today, and you are invited gently to listen to her stories.
I do feel, however, that this album can get a bit monotonous after a while because even though each story contained within each song is different, they sound similar. It doesn’t have the arches and curves of a well-crafted album. It has no structure and comes across as merely a collection of songs rather than an album. You cannot listen to it from beginning to end like you would an album that had thought going into how it comes together.
Ruby Gill is fresh voice and a soft candle staying put in a sea of artists vying for the spotlight. Her simplistic, minimalist music sets the soul at ease and makes for some stunning listening.
Rating: 6/10 – Nikita Ramkissoon
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