Ruth is one of those rare bands that comes around every so often that just might catch listeners by surprise. They don't have the defining image of bands like Kiss or Slipknot, and they certainly don't have the on-stage theatrics of Family Force 5 or infamous bat-eater Ozzy Osbourne to make them stand out. In fact, Ruth could easily slip under the radar, despite making one quality album after another. Yet the consistency in which they are able to deliver solid, heartfelt rock easily makes them one of the best acts on Tooth and Nail Records' star-studded roster.
Anorak is the perfect anthem to small-town America. With its organic yet refined feel, it's reminiscent of times spent with friends and family, watching the sunset on the porch with just a guitar in hand. In the world that Ruth creates, the singing doesn't stop until all of the good times have been had, even if this is long after dark. It invokes feelings of peace and rest, and a simpler life, far removed from the troubles of the Internet Age and the complexities that life brings. In a fast-paced world full of selfishness where neighbors are strangers next door, Anorak is a bright light of the past, linking to a hopeful future. Please slow down and let Anorak be heard.
Production from label mate Chris Keene (of genre-bending indie-folk duo Surrogate) adds an extra layer of depth to the already stellar production provided by Tooth and Nail favorite Aaron Sprinkle. Keene brings his expertise and multi-instrumental sensibility to the table on over half of the tracks of Anorak. What results is a timeless mixture of light, sunny pop and acoustic folk rock laden with spiritual messages; and a little bit of harmonica.
The album's first single, "Back to the Five," is a perfect example of everything that Ruth does well. Lead singer Dustin Ruth introduces the track overtop a soft guitar part, leading to what ends in a soaring chorus. As he admits his failures, they turn into beauty and he cries, "I give it all up for you, to do the things you want me to do. And I'm headed home."
It's a shame that there are only 10 tracks on Anorak. By the time "Dead Giveaway," the album's closer, rolls around Ruth really only leaves two options open; press repeat or listen to last year's debut album, Secondhand Dreaming. Flaws are few are far between on Anorak with the only real exception being "Miracle Photo," a raw acoustic track that feels out of place next to the others. Overall, the album is just solid. With this though, Anorak ends on a bittersweet note, one that will serve Ruth well in the long run; fans will most certainly want to come back for more.- Reviewed: 10/26/08, written by Flip Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
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