Ruby Tiger Creating Bluesy Vistas on Her EP
Olivia Stevens (aka Ruby Tiger) is a British blues & soul singer that deserves to be heard – and Vistas provides the perfect opportunity.
The five tracks that make up this debut EP go beyond the realms of a standard 12 bar blues and take in elements of soul, jazz and more. But make no mistake, these guys certainly know how to play the blues when it’s called for. ‘Big feeling blues’ is a great example of that. It’s a real gem of a track which they went all the way back to 1928 for. Originally recorded by Ma Rainey, It features a stompin’ groove, tasteful harmonica and guitar solos and best of all – a vocal duet between Ruby and guitarist ‘King Rollo’. Doesn’t get much better than that! Or does it? Well , there’s also a fine version of ‘damn your eyes’. While there is certainly no shortage of Etta James covers out there, not many actually do justice to the great lady. Aside from Beth Hart and Warren Haynes, I can’t think of many – if any- that have done as good a job as Ruby has here. She really sings it like she means it, pouring her heart and soul into every word. The band deserve a lot of credit for this arrangement too. There’s bass, drums, guitar, keys and sax all audible amongst the purrs of their big cat band leader – but there’s never any danger of them treading on each other’s toes (or paws).
As well as the two covers there are a few original recordings on offer too. ‘Shattered not broken’ is a fun-time boogie blues track that sees Ruby Channel her inner Susan Tedeschi.
‘Me & my tears’ demonstrates another side to the band altogether – Close your eyes and you can imagine yourself in a smoky Parisienne jazz club. This self-penned number is full of slick changes and seriously smooth sax playing.
As you can probably tell, the EP offers great variety and for the most part, manages to flow quite nicely. The only anomaly is opening track ‘best friend’. Comprising of just bass and a slow arpeggiated guitar part sitting under the brooding vocal lines, this stripped back track is quite a contrast to what lies ahead. It’s by no means bad but doesn’t quite sit comfortably with the rest of the songs on offer.
Sussex based Ruby Tiger is undoubtedly the star of the show, but the real triumph here is the sum of all parts. The band is tight, inventive and full of energy. When a solo is played – Whatever the instrument – it’s always played with the song in mind.
Despite the slight disconnect between the opening track and the rest of the EP, there is a distinct, memorable sound on offer here. A welcome sound on the British blues scene.
SEVENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Best Friend
- Big Feeling Blues
- Damn Your Eyes
- Me & My Tears
- Shattered Not Broken