Martin Ruby “Jacob And The Angel”

Independent, 2022

Carefully crafted guitar instrumentals give a gentle respite from the world.

Martin Ruby has taken something of an unexpected turn with his follow up to debut album ‘Heaven Get Behind Me‘, where that album dug into the broken down and beaten crooner songs of a Tom Waits to tell its stories this album has done away with words completely and presents a series of instrumental mood portraits.  There is a similarity though in that these ten pieces lean into the slough of despond for their inspiration, but with, as the album’s title alludes to, a glimmer of optimism or, at the least, a sliver of hope.  There’s an ethereal otherworldliness to several of the compositions – ‘Sisyphus‘, played on an 124-year-old banjola oozes a sense of unease like the soundtrack to a spine-tingling horror movie, whilst conversely ‘I Wish I was Back Home‘ has a surprising warmth coupled to an air of longing.

Ruby achieves some of his musical variation simply through the choice of guitars from his collection – here a softly picked parlour guitar, there a resonator guitar with the strings slacked off somewhat. And although the New Yorker transplanted to Moscow claims the influence of Eastern European composers like Arvo Pärt, there’s also a big chunk of British folk mixed with a slowed-down surf-rock twang on ‘King of None‘, which is one of the highlights of the album.

Far more than background sound, Martin Ruby has achieved what he set out to do on ‘Jacob and the Angel‘ – grasp the melancholy, the unease, and the loneliness of the last two years of pandemic lockdowns and enforced isolation.  It’s well worth a listen.


About Jonathan Aird 2698 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?
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