Emma Ruth Rundle - Some Heavy Ocean
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record Label: Sargent House
One of the more compelling promo pictures leading up to the release of Emma Ruth Rundle's new album, Some Heavy Ocean, feature the songstress on her knees in the desert, her face hidden by both hands, as if she can't bear to see what's about to happen. The striking image serves as a fitting symbol for her solo debut - a thematically bleak affair that dispenses pain so raw, you want to look away from the impending storm. But you won't be able to, for Ocean's enchanting compositions will draw you in until it's too late to escape.
Rundle is the second busiest woman in Los Angeles (only behind Cathy Pellow, the indestructible leader of Rundle's label, Sargent House), as her past work includes bands like Marriages, Red Sparowes, and Nocturnes. And it's that work ethic and desire to explore her musical bounds that exalt Some Heavy Ocean above the majority of solo releases. While Red Sparowes revealed Rundle as a colossal force behind that guitar, Ocean showcases a softer (at times) yet darker presence overall, with her voice being the forefront of each of the album's ten immaculately crafted songs. Beneath that strength, however, is agony and sorrow from the past, which resonates deeply on the gloomy sprawl of "Shadows Of My Name" and the quiet, goosebump-inducing poignancy of "Oh Sarah."
But don't make the mistake of thinking that Rundle abandoned her beloved guitar. The instrument leads the way on stunners like "Run Forever," lusciously weaving and diving throughout. Her nimble picking highlights the ethereal "Haunted Houses," while the aching echo of "Savage Saint" casts an ominous shadow over the proceedings. Some Heavy Ocean possesses a wild array of simmering synth, grim folk, and ambience and creates something destructively beautiful when paired with Rundle's stirring vocals - brought to life by Chris Common's exemplary production.
Rundle concludes Ocean much like she started it - in harrowing fashion. The five-minute droning denouement of "Living With The Black Dog" feels like a descent into that heavy ocean, emerging as the album's most exhilarating moment. Some Heavy Ocean undoubtedly integrates pieces of Rundle's extended discography, shining a light on each project. But Rundle never uses her past work as a crutch, instead using those experiences towards a much grander picture, establishing herself as one of the most intriguing voices in rock-and-roll today.
Some Heavy Ocean is an observation of darkness and how it comes in waves; it never leaves your life but you discover ways to control it. Over the course of the album's ten tracks, Emma Ruth Rundle proves to understand this notion, creating a chillingly vivid record that'll refuse to loosen its grip on your defeated soul.
Good review, will definitely be checking this out.
Just a note: why don't you put links to artists pages at the end of your reviews? I like the convenience of a quick click (not that typing it into google takes much longer). I was just wondering.