Ah, refreshment. The name could be an acronym for "Return Us To Him." It could also just be the frontman's last name. Either way, this could be the sleeper hit of the summer. From Vancouver, WA comes Dustin Ruth - no longer a solo artist, and no longer struggling to fit his vocal style into musical flavors it wasn't meant for. Since his 2004 indie release Inside Out, Dustin's been hard at work, gaining some musical comrades, re-branding himself, and otherwise refining his sound. Does it pay off?
This album is a slow-burn, taking a few listens to really get into it. You might not think that's what you're in for when "One Foot In-One Foot Out's" opening drum roll sounds off like the starting gun at a race. But just wait. The three leading pop/rock tracks, including the first single "Cross the Line," are well-composed, speaking to the adventure of stepping out in faith, bleeding into the title track before settling into the folk/country worship chorus in "Here to New York." The momentum drops out after, giving time to the less declarative and more introspective - only to be interrupted by the indie anthem "Standing Still" before returning to balladry. By the end of the record, you'll wonder what happened to most of the second half, because you've tuned it out. Go back and listen to those similar tone and tempo songs again. They have a charm all their own. Musically, Ruth is Ryan Adams meets Jacks Mannequin, with a very healthy dose of 90's rock like Third Eye Blind and the Wallflowers thrown in.
Lyrically, Ruth is worship and story, and is surprisingly accessible. Dustin writes from a place of redemption. He's been through the sex, drugs, and rock n' roll… and Jesus has brought him out of it. He is writing from that place of rescue. His music is peppered with a lot of declarations of trust and a desire to just go ahead and follow after God wholeheartedly. Ruth says that many of his songs could be interpreted just as love songs, which may be true for tracks like "Crossing the Line," but then again, you can't hear "You are the waves that I feel when I'm sinking / You are the storms that I feel when I'm dying / You are God / I know / You are God" in the later 'You Are' and call Ruth lyrically ambiguous.
After giving your musical palette a chance to be cleansed of the over-produced, constructed-for-radio tripe, give Ruth some time to sink in - you'll be glad you did. This is a debut album, so typically there will be times it feels like Ruth is still trying to find their ground, but not many. There's some honesty here that isn't scripted, a source material these songs are written from that resonates with everyone… it's called 'a broken life - saved'.- Review date: 6/25/07, written by David Goodman
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