Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., June 29, 2012
Ruby JaneCelebrity (Empire of Emptiness) (Vinyl Records)
Ruby Jane cut her teeth on the fiddle, but she'll make her name with her voice. Languid and assured, it drifts drowsily on a higher plane throughout her official debut, Celebrity (Empire of Emptiness), with a penetrating twang that encompasses both patience and urgency. Opening on "The Innocents," a tone of immense loneliness threads the album, yet is delivered with an equally powerful awareness and purpose. That carries from the following recoil of "XXVII" to the closing title track, the latter a piece of polished roots-pop stinging with lines like, "Call it a dream, call it a suicide machine." "Wake Up" and "The Fall" bolster Celebrity's A-side with a softly measured darkness against the rugged electric guitar and fiddle of the less effective "City of Angels." Her bold cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" drips with an internalized understanding of an emotionally complex tune. Though the backside of the LP doesn't stand as strong with the lightened, upbeat "This Song," the swaying "Break Free" and "Carry Me" kindle nascent torch touches, while informal instrumental breakdown "Intrepid" as a bonus track proves Ruby Jane's musical prowess.