Sam & Ruby: The Here And The Now – Sam & Ruby: The Here And The Now CD reviewElly Roberts reviews

Sam & Ruby: The Here And The Now
Distributed by
Rykodisc Records

  • Released: January 2010
  • Rating: 10/10
  • Vote and comment on this album:View Comments

Nashville duo’s sumptuous debut.

Sam Brooker from Green Bay Wisconsin and Ruby Amafu born in Ghana but raised in Tennessee got together to make an album that would reach out to us all, whatever your musical tastes.

This is a modern Americana album with deep country roots and lashings of soulfulness. What they’ve achieved is quite remarkable, because this is one of the most beautiful albums you’ll ever hear (really) , and set to be one of the best from 2010.Ruby has a Randy Crawford (One Day I’ll Fly Away) huskiness fused with Dolly Parton inflections which are quite unique and engaging. Together with Brooker, who plays acoustic guitar and piano and sings, they make a formidable force. Few singers can compliment each other like this Nashville-based duo.

The foundations of relationships – human and otherwise – inform most of the songs on The Here And Now, with the core of the album’s subject matter coming from the joys and pains of one-to-one, man-to-woman interaction, which can usually inspire some sensitive and heart wrenching material, and they’re all crammed in here. Ruby says, “We try not to fear honesty in our writing and tackle the things that hurt, the things that aren’t always pretty. We wanted this record to be honest and conversational.” To that end, they’ve succeed magnificently.

Opener What Do I Know is a sultry and testing song that typifies their writing collaboration. They listened to the song driving their way to Green Bay Wisconsin and recorded it at Sam’s dad’s cabin.From this song you can understand their musical core, as the song unfolds into uncertainty.This I Know, a light, loving kind of song, has undercurrents of regrets at being in love, which skips along to a happy-sad frame.

Again, heartache is very much at the centre of Too Much, a song infused with old-school Soul and R&B values in the singing styles, brass insertions and rolling organ. Despite the melancholic content the song retains a reasonably uplifting template.Sarah, not a specific person (the name came out of thin air) deals with a two-timing-rat, set to a punchy R&B thrust and catchy chorus…”so sad, so sad..”

While many of the songs on this album take a fictional look at common reality, More stands out as being intensely personal for Ruby.It’s the usual territory when writing a ‘Dear John’ letter – a lover wanting, er, more than what’s on offer. It happens to be a letter Ruby sent to herself, releasing her from a relationship she was once in. It’s a killer song which I’m sure we can all relate to, but never get round to actually doing. Brave stuff.

Suitcases carry luggage. So what if a suitcase could speak? It’d tell many a tale, and here they refer to both the spiritual and human factors therein. Beautifully written, with a touch of melancholy.Won’t Let You Go turns out to be another Wisconsin trip song where they’re trying to gel as songwriters.

Mournful Need Me Less ponders the ending of a love affair, a sort of sequel to More. The lyrics refer to real situations they both found themselves at the same time, with different partners. The gorgeously-sad violin adds to the sad state of affairs.Country-fuelled The Here And Now was co-written by Ruby and Katie Herzig. It was covered by Canadian roots band The Duhks, which garnered a Grammy nomination. You can understand why when you hear it.

Sealing a great debut, lazy Ain’t Love Somethin’ (about not quite understanding love) continues their finely honed craftsmanship, and is sure to be picked up by some superstar singer.

The verdict – Not to missed at any cost.

The full list of tracks included are :

1. What Do I Do Now?
2. This I Know
3. Too Much
4. Sarah
5. More
6. The Suitcase Song
7. Won’t Let You Go
8. Need Me Less
9. Heaven’s My Home
10. The Here And The Now
11. Chillin’
12. Ain’t Love Somethin’
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