Ruston Kelly “The Weakness”

Rounder Records, 2023

Thank God for human frailty. Ruston Kelly puts it to music.

Ruston Kelly "The Weakness" Album CoverRuston Kelly’s third studio album is a product from a move out of Nashville. A withdrawal to reflect on some negative life-altering changes over the last three years, he returns again telling it like it is: “My marriage ended and I moved up North to mend, I tried to fight it like a needle in my skin, The hole inside me kept on growin’, everything went black, Was then I heard the words of my father, “Have faith, there’s no storm that doesn’t pass.

The Weakness‘, the title track, is accompanied by a powerful video highlighting domestic violence but with the anthem-like message that we don’t give in to the weakness. The ‘Mending Song‘ is at the root of this album and a significant moment of raw honesty. The vocal is Kelly’s original demo and drips emotion. Against this, light relief and humour comes from ‘Michael Keaton‘.

If you can relate to Kelly’s conscientious reflections, or maybe are of a certain age, you will surely warm to his words on ‘St Jupiter‘:“The flowers from St. Jupiter, Are growin’ in the yard,  And I made sure that I planted ‘em,  At least three feet apart, To discourage all the mornin’ pissers, Tryin’ to leave their mark, Its been a long fucking summer, Its been a long year, I feel fat and old and dumber, And I’m watchin’ time disappear.”

But Kelly saves the best to last. ‘Cold Black Mile‘ waits patiently… then beautifully surpasses the eleven tracks that came before. “And I might die a thousand times, but I know I can survive, I’ll just keep on pushin’ down the cold black mile.”

Despite the album’s title, musically and lyrically there’s not a lot of it on show. Production comes in an exceptional form via Nate Mecereau in Los Angeles, and Kelly’s bruised and abused heart-on-sleeve words consistently connect and provoke just the right amount of sympathy. Despite this, the music on ‘The Weakness’ is never morose.

Many stones have been thrown at Mr Kelly in public regarding his brief marriage to Miss Musgraves, his drug addiction and mental health problems. But he’s just a man who at the tender age of 34 knows all about human weakness. Thankfully, a very talented man who can produce an excellent album as part of the mending process.


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