Hailing from South Cackalacky (aka South Carolina to those not native to the US’s Southern States) but based in Nashville now, Rutherford Royal released his debut EP, Bleak earlier this year.
Of the six songs, Rutherford Royal makes this confession about the collection,
“It’s a series of misunderstandings about love. Each track presents as a cameo which is an attempt at describing times when I have felt lost in the liminal spaces of bachelorhood or failing relationships. Though the lyrics take plenty of artistic liberties, the songs themselves are true experiences which serve as a record of my personal struggle to connect.”
Aside from the title and its title track, there is nothing bleak about debut EP by Rutherford Royal. There are two songs I find slower or more down tempo than the rest – “Lords & Ladies” but it has such an infectious picking guitar riff that it almost makes the song upbeat and “Keep it Between Us”.
The song “Let Me In” is musically bright and the title track, “Bleak” has this sashay and sway to it that makes it a head bopper.
“Summer Heat” is where Rutherford Royal’s vocals and lyricism steals the show. There’s a swagger to his vocals that brought to my mind the likes of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and the song that steals the spotlight on the entire EP is the final track, “Back Burner”.
“Back Burner” has wonderful driving bass and drums with what I am assuming is a slide guitar that brings a richness to the song. Rutherford Royal’s vocals are crisp and clean and float effortlessly on top of the beats. The song is absolutely delicious with its bass and church-like-chorus.
Maybe the series of misunderstandings on love left Rutherford Royal feeling bleak, but his debut EP, Bleak, brings nothing but joy to this writer’s ear.
MUST LISTEN TRACKS: “Back Burner”, “Lords & Ladies”, “Let Me In”,
FAVOURITE TRACKS: “Back Burner”, “Summer Heat”
Listen to Bleak below