No matter how well a song is written, if it’s not delivered in a way – or in a voice – that connects with listeners, it’s very hard for that song to find an audience. It’s one of the reasons why we place so much importance on singers’ voices; another reason is that we have instinctual responses to voices – often we either want to cuddle up next to the speaker and be bathed in that voice, or we don’t.
Faith Evans Ruch has a great voice. Rich, warm and deep, it is the sort of voice that will make you want to cuddle up, not run away. It is a voice that could do the oldest lullabye powerful justice; it is also a voice that, on her debut album 1835 Madison, delivers regret and longing but, refreshingly, no self-pity. On ‘Don’t Go’, when she sings ‘Don’t go – don’t leave me alone tonight’ it’s not the plaintive cry of the lovelorn but almost a command. How could any suitor ignore such a request when it’s delivered like that?
Evans Ruch’s voice could be classified as ‘old-timey’ only in that it’s not a voice often found in contemporary music, where so often the edges are sanded instead of rounded. Her songs are ‘old-timey’ in that they respect the forms, traditions and pace of older country songs – and they suggest that Evans Ruch knows her voice well, and knows which sorts of songs will suit it.
There is whimsy and knowing on 1835 Madison. The songs are sassy but also wistful – the missives of a strong woman who would rather live without love if it means that love is wrong, and who would rather get her thoughts and feelings out in a country song than wallow in them silently. Evans Ruch is clearly a woman of action, not complaint. It makes for an upbeat, charming album that wouldn’t be out of place in 1954 but which also sounds just fine in 2014.