Stripped back six song EP set from Austin based David Ramirez is short but memorable.
‘Rules and Regulations’ is a six track EP follow up to Ramirez’ 2020 full length album ‘My Love is a Hurricane’, comprising a collection of songs written for other projects but, until now, not recorded. Ramirez is based in Austin Texas, where the EP was recorded at Austin Signal Studios. Following in the steps of such luminaries as The Cowboy Junkies, and more recently Bard Edrington V, the tracks were recorded live, with no overdubs, using vintage microphones and what he describes as “first-edition recording equipment”, over a two day period. The simple approach to recording gives the EP a stripped back, but clean rather than raw, sound, and Ramirez’ vocals are able to shine throughout. Opening track ‘Teach Me Your Language’ has more than a hint of Bill Callahan, early Smog era, in it’s rhythmic guitar, and the tone of Ramirez’ vocals, with backing subdued, keys low down in the mix, subtle pedal steel, and a short and melodic guitar solo. On ‘Can You Hear the Silence’ , with almost spoken vocals, a la Leonard Cohen, a found sound introduction shades into aircraft overhead, before twang guitar takes us to a desert scene, and Ramirez intones “Can you hear the silence right above the trees / every fifteen minutes they used to be / a strong wind blowing, a violent breeze / evil gods flying on silver wings”.
The mid tempo title track ‘Rules and Regulations‘ starts with scratchy guitar, before first drums and then a pounding riff come in, an indie rock/Americana crossover, while the down tempo ‘Put in the Work’ has echoes of Steve Earle, in vocal phrasing, the late Guy Clark, and even Van Morrison, in it’s final refrain, as Ramirez sings “Write a song / make a record / play a show / sell a t-shirt / its your first year standing on a stage / you’re thinking when will I be paid / well there must be something wrong with the business / ‘cos they ain’t praying to you like Jesus”.
‘Friends Forever’ has a retro 60’s feel, with acoustic guitar and gentle percussion, and the stripped back arrangement is taken one step further on the EP closer ‘I Believe You’, featuring arpeggiated piano, with Ramirez in conversational style on vocals, before the subtle introduction of bass, keys and drums. In all a short but engaging set of songs from Ramirez.