‘Bright As You Can’ from The Mike + Ruthy Band - roots flavours mix with invention and innovation(June 14, 2015)
For those that know the Mike + Ruthy Band, there’s a certain privilege in feeling part of a family band, that’s what they deliver, a feeling that you’re part of the belonging. And their latest album ‘Bright As You Can’ continues the theme. Gutsy, vibrant unadorned rootsy flavours mix with rocky invention and innovation. A regard for tradition rides along happily with a desire to explore and work with what develops. If ever there was an album to go with you on a long trip then this is one. Journey planned or not, take this with you and see where the road leads.
The accompaniment to your voyage through ‘Bright As You Can’ includes music that flows across scales of feeling from softly engaging to vivaciously dramatic, energy inducing to laid back reflection. The drive comes in with the title track ‘Bright As You Can’, extends its reach through ‘Word On the Street’ before moving into the powerful vocal of ‘Rock On Little Jane’. There are more than a few moments of deliberate musing with ‘The Ghost of Richard Manuel’ and the recognition of ‘Legends Only Appear In Black and White’, while ‘Golden Eye’ generates a funk-edged understanding of relationship. To place my own particular stick in the ground my favourite track is the mood-soaked ‘Cigarette’ – heavy indeed.
Playing on ‘Bright As You Can’ are Mike Merenda (vocals, guitars, banjo) Ruthy Ungar (vocals, fiddle, guitar, banjo-uke) Konrad Meissner (drums, percussion) Jacob Silver (upright and electric bass) and Charlie Rose (pedal steel, trombone, Wurlitzer) while the guest list includes Chris Miller, Joel Ricci, Dean Jones, Daniel Littleton, Professor Louie, Jay Ungar and Marco Benevento. Website: www.mikeandruthy.com
Review: Tom Franks