Melissa Ruth is a singer-songwriter who calls her sound “doo-wop twang.” On the new album Meteor, she blends elements of blues and soul with rock and country for a sound that is pleasant no matter what you call it.
One of the first things you notice about Ruth is how she uses her voice. At times she sings with a rasp similar to Lucinda Williams. At other times her tone is barely above a whisper.
The twang is loud and clear on “Goodbye Again.” This doesn’t have the sound of a classic country song, but it certainly is filled with regret that has long been a staple of country music. As the guitarists pick out a slow, sad melody, Ruth sings, “This is the last time I’m saying goodbye again.”
Ruth shows some range of styles. Perhaps the best example is “Broken Heart.” The instrumentation in this song – especially the guitar and bass – is distinctly jazzy. It’s easy to imagine this song being played by a well-dressed band in a dark jazz club.
Bartenders have long been the subject of songs, and Ruth adds her own with “Hey Mr. Bartender.” It opens with a groove that borders on funk and 60s soul. The vocals are pretty much whispered as you follow the narrator from the bar where she asks for more whiskey to the car where she asks a police officer not to point that gun at her. After a couple more pleas (to the banker and the president) and a brief turn toward the blues in the guitar fill, the story returns to the bar where the narrator asks for more whiskey.
Ruth is a talented songwriter and vocalist. She proves that a singer doesn’t need to shout to have powerful vocals. She also shows how easily she can move between styles. With this album, she could easily earn a place next to the favorite songwriters in your collection. Meteor will be available everywhere on March 1. Order your copy here.