Music, for all its good, unfortunately offers most a unique opportunity for Gatsby like reinvention. The minute a singer / songwriter jumps from covering Jack Johnson to pick up girls to recording with a serious country record with weeping strings, picked banjo and mournful steel, he is what he determines society wants.
It’s so easy to ride along the crest of the wave that we forget the exhausting effort required to paddle through swells to find new breaks. Halifax’s Ruth Minnikin has long explored uncharted terrain, often just far enough in front of the crowd that critical acclaim wasn’t followed by deserved larger appeal.
All things considered, it’s not surprising Ruth’s latest effort is another hard banking turn from the electronic fused sounds she offered on Depend on This.
The Minnikins Photo Album is washed in sepia tones; images faded and cracked Ruth sings in the spirit of tradition and lineage. Dust is blown from vinyl grooves, revealing a rich warmth, but these songs aren’t sun kissed nostalgia or sweaters and knit scarves. No, the fire that heats the room is the love of family and stories told time and time again through smiles, hugs and tears.
The horns, harmonies and steel you hear aren’t mournful. They are joyous and loving. This record is a goodbye of sorts as Ruth begins a journey far from the salt scented waters of her Atlantic home, but it’s also a celebration of family. It’s thick with soul (at times sonically – “Log on the Fire” – but more in terms of the human experience). It’s a way for those in her life to remember her as she soaks in the influence of another ocean and new culture.
Safe travels, Ruth.