The rent-a-quotes at the NME say this guy is what Bob Dylan would sound like if he was from Newquay.... It's hard to argue if this alternative musical timeline is accurate but one thing I do know, I've heard this sound before. It took a couple of tracks but I was finally able to place it:
this guy is Newquay's answer to Ralph McTell from Tickle on The Tum and the theme from Wind in the Willows (80's kids TV if you were wondering) & of course, `Streets of London'.
I wasn't a big fan of Ralph as a kid and this album doesn't do it for me either. There are a few vocal and musical nods to the late great Elliot Smith. But where Smith's songs wove dark tapestries about addiction and alienation, Joseph's are light and fluffy affairs about being married with kids. Nothing wrong with that, but the record company blurb comparing this album to everybody who ever held an acoustic guitar is pretty misleading.
I found this album a bit bland, non-offensive and ultimately uninspiring. I feel the same way about Jack Johnson songs, so if that is your cup of tea you might like Ruarri Joseph. But even so, Johnson's lyrics are much tighter so you could be disappointed with this. Some of the lyrics on 'Tales Of Grime And Grit' about how much he loves his kids are a bit silly. The song 'Infant Eyes' about a child's painting reminded me of `Hey Matthew' by Karel Fialka (more pop culture references for you 80's kids), and that's not a good thing.
But credit where it's due, Mr Joseph has a fine ear for a tune and there are no terrible clangers in this collection of songs. If you've heard his stuff and you like it this a pretty safe buy.
I am fascinated that a mayor publisher like Warner Music would sign an artist like this. Judging by the packaging and that this CD has gone out to Vine reviewers, Warner must be putting some cash behind Mr Joseph. They clearly think there is a market for a noughties Ralph McTell who sings about settling down and having kids. If such a demographic does indeed exist it will be well served by this album, which has plenty of tunes you can hum whilst doing the school run.
In conclusion, there's not much wrong with this album if it's your kind of thing. But if you like your folkie singer song writers a little darker (like Elliot Smith, Nick Drake) or a little more fragile (Vashti Bunyan, Final Fantasy) or a little more off the wall (Joanna Newsom, Adem) then this album will be to tame for you. It's more Cat Stevens then Bob Dylan and perfect filler until Tickle on the Tum comes out on DVD.
Tales of Grime and Grit - Ruarri Joseph
It seems to be very popular to compare Ru Joseph to any one of a number of singer songwriters such as Jack Johnson or even Bob Dylan and, having listened to this several times I can seen where the Jack Johnson comparison comes from although I'm not so sure I'd agree with NME's comparison of him to Bob Dylan. There are similarities but unless someone else had compared him before I heard the album I wouldn't have made the comparison myself. It's similar but then again so is any other artist who uses the slo voice and small backing accompaniment. Equally there are tracks here which remind me of some of the light numbers that Richard Thompson has done in the past.
This album bouces along cheerfully and on the first few hearings that was the main thing I noticed; an upbeat album full of short tracks and not a great deal of depth to any of them. Over time though I've found that the songs are spending all day in my head and even if they are not the deepest and most meaningful songs you've heard this year that is one sign that he's doing the right thing. If there is any flaw here it's that the tracks seem somehow to be very similar to one another. Even if the lyrics and tune change somehow it still comes across as very similar.
Overall. Ru Joseph is Ru Joseph not just a Jack Johnson / Richard Thompson / Bob Dylan copy and this is a very creditable first album. I for one will be watching out for his second album.
It's hard to write this review without reverting to tried and tested comparisons with Jack Johnson, Badly Drawn Boy, Stephen Fretwell, Dylan, Cohen and any number of other bedsit dwelling singer/songwriters of their ilk, bemoaning their poor record with girls and how everything is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
However, after a few listens, I think this debut offering from Cornishman Ruarri, recorded in the studio Muse used to create their evil, world conquering, demonic tunes, offers something a little different from crummy-room angst and redundant take away tins. Instead, it blesses the listener with a genuine slice of mellow happiness and well crafted songs about love, loyalty and life - without ever veering into twee or soppy territories.
That cheery, optimistic disposition is evident in pretty much every track here, but nowhere more so than in the positively radiant "Cuddles Are The Best Thing", a song blessed by having a title that makes you smile, perhaps knowingly, before you've even listened to it's swampy, shuffling, whimsical stop and start tale of trips to the cinema to buy popcorn. I realise that sounds a little questionable, but by the time the french horn kicks in, and the accordion, and the swooping Gallic female backing vocals, you'll be captivated, and toe tapping along.
Other stand-out moments include "Patience", a moody, broody yet rocky number that Tom Baxter would be proud of, the title track with it's grinding guitar sections and bluesy folk that betters some of KT Tunstall's more successful offerings with ease, and the autobiographical "More Rock and Roll", my favourite track on the album, which summarises it's creator beautifully in it's lyrics; "I may look the part/But I know in my heart/That I'd rather be home with the wife".
Amen to that Ruarri.
The album has few low points. Perhaps, on a track by track basis, there isn't quite enough musical diversity to stun the listener into attention. And perhaps writing songs about cuddles, and drawings done by your baby girl ("Infant Eyes") isn't "cool" enough for those who like an edge and a challenge from their music.
But when it comes to music, who genuinely cares about cool?
It's clear Ruarri isn't a party animal, and you won't find him falling out of Brown's at 2am with an it girl on each arm (I'm not sure they'd approve of his perpetually worn flip flops in there anyway) but then, unlike pretty much every other homegrown singer/songwriter, man with guitar, artist out there, you won't find him staring dolefully out of his bedsit windows waiting for "her" to come back, or sobbing into his cold and stained pot of tea either.
Instead, buy this album and what you will get is a collection of 12 folky, bluesy, enjoyable, life affirming, well written and passionately performed songs from a man who, whilst I'm reluctant to use the tired "next best thing" tag to describe, is surely destined for bigger and better things when word gets around.
Could that voice really have come from a 25 year old? Well, don't judge a CD by the photo on its cover. I was sent down a foot-tapping, finger-clicking journey to Parisian boulevards, New Orleans sidewalks and boozy nights in pubs with Ruarri's mates. Oh, and by the way, "Won't Work" reminded me of Cat Stevens! Sorry Ruarri, one day they`ll be saying "hey, he sounds like Ruarri Joseph!" (And as a special request, can we have a song about Cornwall drekkly).
From my point of view, lately, there's been an overflow of singer/songwriters, but don't let that fool you! Ruarri has something to offer: a sense of reality all over his songs...
He certainly does not sound like your typical now-days acoustic-guitar guy depressed about life... his sound is refreshing and reminds me of Cat Stevens in his great days with great arrangements on top of almost every song.
The character of Ruarri's voice, the folksy arrangements and rhythmic patterns on the songs, makes this album a worth repeated listens. But above all, his great melodies with simple arrangements amazed me the most.
Listen to the song 'Early Morning Remedies' it is just THE song to sing-a-LONG DRUNK AS HELL!!...
Let the music play!
This is a hard CD to rate: 4 stars seems maybe too generous, while 3 stars would feel very mean. The music is folky singer-songwriter meets modern Britpop: a Jack Johnson-Fratellis crossover. Overall it's a very warm and pleasant album: the kind of thing that will sound great when you're sitting outside on a summer's evening with a few drinks and the BBQ sizzling away. But I don't think it contains any exceptional songs: the ones that really lodge in your head and you suddenly find yourself humming on the bus...
I am listening to it as I write this review... Oh, ok, 4 stars it is.
on 21 October 2007
Ruarri's (prounced rewery) debut CD, is an excellent selection of work from the singer/songwriter genre.
"Patience" the opener gets you tapping your feet straight away, "Tales of Grime & Grit" is more of an angrier sound, which reminds me of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's acoustic numbers from "Howl"
Most of the songs are accompanied by a rhythm section, who stay in the background giving some subtle touches to each tune without dominating the singer, just as it should be.
Some acoustic numbers and some more upbeat ones make for an enjoyable album.
on 30 January 2013
I was so surprised when it came out...someone so young sounding so fresh yet so poetically reminiscent of all the gretatest of the past ..Neil Young, Dylan etcetera...most of the times I prefer sticking to listening to my collection of vynils with Neil Young Dylan , john Mayall etcetera and dont really like 99.9% o fthe stuff it comes out nowadays... but for this record I made an exception....shame he got a bit lost after this but Patience and Wont work are two masterpieces....
For any rising stars, a good, solid debut could mean the difference between a years hard work and many years. Ruarri Joseph is definitely off to a good start, you can tell from the opening track that this man has a bright career infront of him. The songs are cheery, uplifting and not too dissimilar from Mr. Johnson.
One minor thing is that I wish this album was put out a few months ago, as it's most definitely a summery CD. I'm sure it won't be a problem, as the CD is very well done and very nice to listen to.
If you're a fan of acoustic pop, and enjoy looking at the brighter things in life, then this is definitely a CD I would recommend!
Ruarri Joseph's debut album has been compared to the likes Jack Johnson and if you try hard enough you can see (if not hear) some similarities. Both could be pigeon-holed (unfairly) into what I might call 'surfer/slacker chic', both feature tracks that are almost exclusive acoustic and guitar lead, both feature a male lead supported by un-named backing musicians.
There the similarities cease however, leaving Jackson (whose music I like) and Joseph as very different musical animals. As such further comparisons between the two are worthless and Ruarri's album deserves to be judged entirely on its own merits.
On this basis I would consider it a qualified success. Featuring guitar driven melodies backed, but never dominated, by a wide variety of supporting instruments, from boogie-woogie piano to horns, the album is eclectic in terms of the range of sounds on offer. Some tracks, like 'Relying on Lying' do carry hints of the sort of surfer-chic sounds popularised by the likes of the Thills. Others, such as the title track, are harder hitting with a definitely bluesy feel to them and some, like 'Infant Eyes' are simple, gentle melodies.
Such diversity makes placing Joseph in one single musical genre difficult. Some tracks are also far more successful than others, with 'Early Morning Remedy', the previously mentioned 'Infant Eyes' and 'More Rock N' Roll' particular standouts. On the whole the good also outweigh the not so good (there are no really poor tracks), but there are also no outstanding tracks that make you really sit up and pay attention.
The one truly surprising, and pleasing thing about Tales of Grime & Grit is how grown up it is in terms of the sentiments and emotions on offer in the music. Rather than the expected preoccupations with the concerns of youth such as partying and angst, the album instead focuses on issues such as parenthood and the desire to spend time with family rather than on meaningless partying. It is also resolutely positive, yet avoids becoming saccarine. Alll of this came as a refreshing change from some of the dark and edgy musical fare on offer from singer/songwriters these days.
So overall not a bad debut from Ruarri Joseph. Not an unqualified success, nothing that is going to make him stand out hugely from the crowd and unlikely to make any huge waves with the wider public unless the album's lucky to catch the cultural zeitgeist. Still, not a bad first effort and pleasurable to listen to when all you want is to chill out and relax.