If you’re looking for an EP that is as interesting and intriguing as you can get, then Kodachrome from Perth’s Ruby May is where you should be headed. I have to admit, when I first saw the press coverage I had assumptions that this was ‘just another indie pop singer songwriter’.
Oh boy was I wrong. After spending a weekend at WOMADelaide immersed in some of the best neo-soul and world music, all while anticipating the arrival of Lauryn Hill for Bluesfest, I was awash with glee upon hearing the first track from this record.
A brilliant vocalist and a creator of brave blends of traditional jazz and soul, Ruby May harnesses gripping lyricism with a contemporary flair.
Delicately produced and with phenomenal accompaniment from seven of Western Australia’s best musicians, this is a stellar breakthrough record and one which I will be sharing far and wide. With distinct nods to classic jazz and blues sounds, Kodachrome is diverse and calculated. A mix of energy-filled pop tracks and some smooth, moving grooves, Ruby May leaves it all at the door.
The record opens with a collation of radio broadcasts and news grabs, sports commentary and snippets of Ruby May’s own music. It’s an interesting introduction, and not one which I fully understand, but which I take as an ushering into the stories and personality behind the upcoming EP.
Track two Biddies on Ice is filled with swelling vocals and a deep, sensual huskiness that just washes over you, a great introduction to Ruby May’s vocal abilities and a clear indication of where the EP is headed. There’s glamour and sophistication, but with the right amount of sass to keep it interesting.
Moving on to All This Is, the subject matter of the record becomes clearer still; we are following the artist on a journey of recognition and transition. The whispered choral vocals into the opening bars leads us down Ruby May’s reckoning with vulnerability and shame, questioning her existence, purpose and relationships. It’s dark, but beautifully arranged.
For a track with a bit more positivity and vibe, Rock Bottom is what’s going to pull you out. While the title might lead you to think that the narrative for Ruby May’s spiral of dark thoughts was continuing, think again. Rather, it’s an uplifting transition into an upward climb. Recognising her strengths, Rock Bottom is a step in a new direction for the artist and for the record. At parts the lyrics can become slightly repetitive, but there’s a natural off-the-cuff spin to her vocals which I really like.
Devils Stank starts off really well, those glittering keys and upbeat intro gets me hyped for yet another step up for the energy for Kodachrome. And while there are hints of upping the tempo throughout, I feel robbed of that big banger to go places which I know it can. I wanted it to really let loose, and get hit with a bit more wildness.
But what a closer! Real Monsters takes this EP exactly where I wanted Devils Stank to go. I knew she had it in her. Big, bright, high octane instrumentals do wonders for this finale, really selling Ruby May as a vocalist and getting the listener thinking about what she could sound like live.
What a great first record. Warm, diverse and brilliantly composed, I am a big fan of Ruby May and can’t wait to see where this act goes next.