Ruby J’s voice has a uniquely youthful appeal. The 18-year-old’s ebullience is no gimmick. The new single ‘Home’ is big band Motown-inspired frivolity.
The Midlands singer-songwriter has had an encouraging few years, especially given her recent slots at UK Festivals and some bold comparisons to some of soul’s biggest artists (but more of that later).
More broadly, the last few years have seen a nostalgic return to ‘80s culture in much of pop music, as pop culture laps one disco-infused record after another, often to great praise.
Ruby J takes things further back. These throwback records may be fashionable but they can be difficult to execute. For every great one, there are many that are twee and tacky. But ‘Home’ is not kitsch. It’s smartly delivered pop and joyously danceable too.
It’s an extremely bright single. Brass tones sparkle with treble. The instrumental is deliberate but feels spontaneous all the same, as if the band burst into an improvised jam on a whim.
Ruby’s vocals are smoothly spread across this wide and detailed variety of sounds. The most common comparison will be drawn to Amy Winehouse and it’s a fair one to draw, but the quirky inflections placed especially on the vowels are stranger, nearing something closer to Joanna Newsom.
The influences are obvious but Ruby isn’t performing derivative music. It would be wrong to call ‘Home’ a facsimile when it sounds stridently current and excitingly enthused. For someone so young to sound this unabashed to be so confident in their music is an extremely exciting prospect.