Essentially the handiwork of New Zealand-based musician/producer
Ryan McPhun The Ruby Suns new album delivers a big burst of warmth
and sunshine at just the right time. (We've all had enough of the
Long Cold Winter haven't we?!)
His perfectly pleasant 2007 release 'Sea Lion', despite being a little
rough around the edges, showed evidence of a musical imagination
with the capacity to absorb ideas from many genres and cultures.
Give 'Oh, Mojave' and 'Tane Mahuta' a listen for immediate elucidation.
It is the lovely rolling harmonies on final track'Morning Sun', however,
which seem to point the way forward. A taste of better things to come.
'Fight Softly' is a collection of ten compositions which slowly
and gently seep into our consciousness without any need to wave
placards or use insistent barging elbows to gain our attention.
It is a grown-up affair.
Mr McPhun's repeated use of luminous vocal harmonies is the glue
which holds this gentle but always-engaging music together. They
cast a warm, golden sheen over his beguiling musical landscapes.
Opening track 'Sun Lake Rinsed' is a perfect example of how
to make a beautiful song out of the very simplest materials.
A economically effective synth and percussion framework supports
Mr McPhun's confident falsetto, soaring like a lone bird over
the surface of the glowing supporting harmonies.
'Mingus and Pike' has a stronger rhythmic presence but this is
never allowed to overpower the subtely rolling melodic material.
The half-heard voices in the small break at its heart are
an enigmatic punctuation mark; an unanswered
question mark left hanging in the air .
'Cinco' has an understated carnival air about it. Something to
do with the shuffling quasi-latin rhythm and bouncy bass-line.
'Closet Astrologer' is a thing of real beauty. Slow, stately
and utterly captivating, this dream of a song is alone worth
the price of the album. The echoing anthemic central section
finds Mr McPhun singing like an angel, effortlessly and with
ice-melting clarity of purpose.
'How Kids Fail' is another big song. The gentle introduction paves
the way for the album's most raucous and complex composition.
A riot of clattering percussion and wildly imaginative vocal invention.
A blissfully unpredictable confection.
Final track 'Olympics On Pot' brings this fine album to a rousing close.
The experience of listening to it is a bit like waking from a dream
without being able to remember just what it was we were dreaming about.
Underwater Beach Boys harmonies and a big friendly beat.
An elusive listening experience and all the better for it.
This splendid recording is as close as music might come
to giving you a big warm hug just when you most need it.