Doing Her Own Thing
Even if someone has never heard of Ruby Amanfu, odds are they have heard her voice. Ruby has lent her voice to breakout act Hozier and collaborated with the likes of Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. In addition to singing on Jack White’s album Blunderbuss, she also joined White’s tour as a member of his all female touring band The Peacocks.
On her new solo LP, Standing Still, Ruby gives us her smoky soul-ringing voice drizzled over well-written lyrics, weaving a story of a heartbreak. The powerful narrative may not end with a resolution, but with a shimmer of hope instead. The album enjoys a mosaic of influences from soul and R&B, to a tinge of country that comes from the use of a lap guitar on tracks like “Shadow on the Wall.” On this well-rounded album many songs employ sparsely picked guitar to give them a sad barroom feel; other songs like “Where You Going” hold their rhythm with a driving drum beat that will keep listeners guessing as to what type of song is going to come next.
The main attraction of Standing Still is Ruby’s stellar vocals. Even when singing slowly and softly like on the track “Street Lights,” her voice is delightfully powerful. Throughout the whole album her vocals are able to stand almost by themselves without much distraction from the backing instrumentals that really only serve as a highlight to Ruby’s singing. The natural rhythm that comes from Ruby’s soulful delivery is incredibly easy to listen to.
The song where this album seems to shine the most is Ruby’s take on Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.” “Not Dark Yet” is one of those sad songs that makes the listener want to listen over and over again even if it might make them cry. Ruby sings over a gospel sounding organ and perfectly placed guitar riffs, really letting her voice belt to give us those lost-love lyrics.
As a whole this album is incredibly satisfying to listen to. It shines both as the complete story as well as individual tracks. When looking for a good album to listen to after a breakup, or really any other time, look no further than Ruby Amanfu’s wonderful Standing Still.