♫♪  Ruth Garbus - Joule EP

I first stumbled upon Ruth Garbus’ music last fall when attempting to listen to every single Vermont pop weirdo I could find. Garbus’ Rendezvous with Rama album for Autumn was one of the first records I found from this scene and I was instantly struck by the power of its ultra minimal instrumentation (just guitar and voice) in conjunction with Garbus’ lush harmonic/melodic sensibilities and bittersweetly wry lyrics. Garbus is one of the rare songwriters whose distinct style comes directly from the raw structural material of her songs as opposed to any sort of additional arrangement/production. There’s often so much going on between the lyrics and the melodic, and harmonic material of Garbus’ work that any additional instrumentation could ultimately cloud the subtle ideas present in the bare elements of her songwriting. It’s obvious that a significant amount of composition goes into each one of Garbus’ songs and perhaps her desire to achieve such formal structural clarity is why she isn’t as prolific as some of the other artists in the Brattleboro/Burlington scene. However, every single release of Garbus’ is always excellently crafted and the Joule EP is another wonderful entry in her canon.

All of Garbus’ music has an interesting implicit fascination with the recording space that her songs occupy. Where Rendezvous with Rama was full of open space and natural reverb and Ruthie’s Requests contained various bits of tape detritus, Joule EP works with a far more compressed landscape that is highlighted by the doubling of Garbus’ guitar/voice on most tracks. In some ways, this condensing of sound makes the EP seem a bit more straightforward at first but like other Vermont songwriters Chris Weisman and Zach Phillips, Garbus’ music hides complexity behind easy hooks and simple accompaniment. On Joule EP, it takes many listens to realize how truly crazy some of the chords are and similarly, Garbus’ lyrics on Joule EP contain surprisingly political messages that only begin to reveal themselves over time. Joule EP is another great example of how Garbus is creating some of the most forward looking singer-songwriter music around.

• Ruth Garbus: http://www.ruthgarbus.bandcamp.com

Chocolate Grinder

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we’ll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.

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