Ruthie Collins “Cold Comfort” (Curb Records/Sidewalk, 2020)

Ruthie Collins second album ‘Cold Comfort‘ is a hugely contemplative affair that, while not devoid of upbeat songs, creates something of a melancholy vibe throughout its 11 tracks.   That’s probably not that surprising given the album arose hot on the heels of a somewhat agonising breakup and the pain is clear to see as Collins bares her soul.  The album wasn’t made some risk without though.  Having gained praise for the more country-tinged ‘Get Drunk and Cry’ this represents a subtle but clear change in direction which has been compared to seventies Laurel Canyon rather than modern country.

Making this album felt like a sink or swim moment for me,” says Collins, who approached long-time collaborator Wes Harllee to produce and GRAMMY-winner Ryan Freeland (of Bonnie Raitt, Ray LaMontagne fame) taking on the mixing duties. “I felt like I needed to just go for it, to just trust my instincts and make the record I’d always wanted to make.”

The scene is set on the opening track ‘Joshua Tree’ which appears to start as a love song but then quickly hints at a darker background as it becomes clear that this is a song about love painfully lost and the accompanying video graphically highlights her ex-partner’s struggles with drug abuse.  The parallel’s with Gram Parsons overdose death are clear for all to see and somewhat eerily, large parts of the video were filmed in the actual room where the great one passed away.

The songs here span the last five years of Collins’ life, charting her sometimes-harrowing emotional evolution with openly vulnerable lyrics and unflinching self-examination, and her delivery is at times both heartrending and soul-bearing to match. The result is an album that learns to make peace with the pain, a deep, moving record that finds strength in sadness, gratitude in hardship, and growth in the most unlikely of places.

Cold Comfort’ is well titled, describing as it does the range of  feelings experienced at the end of a relationship and Collins is quoted as saying “You know you’re stronger and wiser because of it, but that’s cold comfort because you know you’ll never get all that time back.

This is best described as a lush record which combines rich orchestral strings with liberal lashings of pedal steel thrown in for good measure and Collins light and sometimes wispy vocals fully complement this type of mix and all in all it’s a fine second album.

Heartache and pain laced with acceptance and hope
7/10

Author: Jim Finnie

Resident of the frozen NE of Scotland, with a penchant for climbing high mountains and exploring crazy countries that others avoid. I also sorta like music.

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