Ruth Theodore – Cactacus

ruth 4

Ruth Theodore
Cactacus
Aveline Records

Left of Centre Songwriter May Have Invented Alt. Jazz

Because ‘time is of the essence’ for me at the moment; this album has sat on the shelf as it is best described as ‘challenging;’ that was until I was driving to work very early one morning and it was the soundtrack to a spectacular sunrise and….I ‘got it’.
The opening track Buffalo is a real brain twister combining her quintessentially British Folkish singing style with a Country-Jazz hybrid backing…..confused? You will be!
The following song, You Can’t Help Who You Love is a little bit easier to understand; with Ruth’s quirky and very individual voice finally winning the battle with the band who throw a little bit of everything into the mix.
Not everything here is quite so frenetic thankfully; as for me the finest moments are when Ruth plays at the piano and producer Todd Sickafoose allows her voice to flow like a mountain stream, with The Carcass and the Pride being a beautiful example of a singer-songwriter pouring their heart out in words and music.
My favourite song by far; is Wishbone and again is basically Ruth singing as she tinkles the piano. The song is absolutely stunning and had me wishing the whole album had been in the same vein as those two songs.
The album closes with another haunting beauty; Everything is Temporary; possibly the most conventional song here and yet again an intelligently written and constructed piece that will appeal to readers of the broadsheet newspapers.
As a man of a certain age; Ruth is the type of artist that would turn up in the middle of the Old Grey Whistle Test sitting at the grand piano with a hirsute guitarist beside her and would either be the time you took to make a cup of tea or the five minutes that turned her into your favourite singer of all time.
With hindsight it has been Ruth Theodore’s amazing voice that kept me hanging in here; while some of the poetic lyrics reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s earlier work (seriously) and the album itself sort of hints at Tori Amos and the Ben Folds Five at times; I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone quite like her before.
While this is British singer-songwriter Ruth Theodore’s fourth album, she has somehow passed me by until now; and as I said earlier, it took several ‘listens’ to finally come somewhere near to enjoying this album; but the effort was well worth it.

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Released September 23rd 2016

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