Blues Bytes

Surprise

January 2020

Love Was Here
Ruby Turner

RTR Productions Ltd

Ruby TurnerLove Was Here (RTR Productions Ltd) is the Jamaican born chanteuse Ruby Turner’s 20th solo album, and one which she has always wanted to make, its feel and grooves drawing on influences including BB King, Ry Cooder and Reverend Al Green. It is a bluesy, soulful, R&B masterpiece from a singer who is a national treasure in her UK homeland and a number one best seller in the USA. What makes this album so special is the quality of its production, the emotional depth of the song writing and the intimacy created by the small group of backing musicians. These features provide the perfect platform for Turner’s breathtaking vocals of virtuosic range, intensity and timbre --- a singer right at the top of her game.

The jaunty opener, “Got To Be Done,” celebrates a positive state of mind, the optimism continuing with “Don’t Cry Over Yesterday”, the softly spoken verses contrasting with the powerful crescendos of the chorus and organ accompaniment. “Won’t Give You My Heart To Break” sees Turner in a defiant mood and not allowing anyone to break her heart or make a fool of her:  "...You can’t pull the wool over my eyes/I know your every disguise my dear...," the words enhanced by Nick Atkinson’s piercing empathetic guitar interludes.

"Under Your Sky,” with its sumptuous slide guitar and poignant lyrics, is pure nostalgia for the Caribbean blue skies and turquoise sea of Ruby’s childhood. The blues run very deep on “Love Was Here,” with its reflections on love and why neither party can let go. It's beautifully written, as are all 10 tracks, by Turner, Atkinson and Kat Eaton, the Sheffield singer also sharing the smoky backing vocals with considerable aplomb. “Make You Happy” is both upbeat and uplifting courtesy of Ruby’s coolly sensual voice and appropriately atmospheric keys from the multi talented Joe Glossop.

The superb arrangement of “Runaway,” with its compelling harmonies and dynamic rhythms, the latter courtesy of the excellent bassist Jeremy Meek and drummer extraordinaire John Blease, sets the scene for getting back to a happier and simpler life. Anger and frustration are evident in Turner’s voice on “A Better Way” as she warns about history repeating itself and pleads, "...Why don’t we listen to each other/Instead of shouting louder?..."

“Why Didn’t We Try” is another blues-infused song, this time of memory and regrets, which tugs at the heart strings, Glossop’s emphatic piano chords complementing Ruby’s angst to create the unbearable tension of the climactic ending. Ruby calls the shots on “Time Of Your Life,” expressing no bitterness in a relationship which has ended as she gets on with her own life. A bonus track is the ethereal “Chasing Love,” the soundtrack to the motion picture "The Host," its string section heightening the singer’s sentiments of :...Chasing love, losing love/Dying for love..." in an overall showstopping finale.

Whilst it looked as if Ruby Turner might have peaked in 1986 with her sensational cover version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” it was only the beginning. The reality is that the inimitable Ruby was destined to create not imitate, and to lead rather than follow. This is why this 2020 release Love Was Here is a celebration of ground-breaking songs destined to become classics of the genre in their own right, hewn from a gem who is the genuine article. An early contender for album of the decade.

--- Dave Scott
 

 

 

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