Justin Rutledge

Devil on a Bench in Stanley Park

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Justin Rutledge comes from the same musical family as Kathleen Edwards, Blue Rodeo, and Ryan Adams with his simple, relaxing, and strong songwriting. Adams instantly comes to mind during the opening moments of the midtempo, pedal steel-accented "Robin's Tune." From there, Rutledge rarely rocks the boat when it comes to the arrangements, especially on the tender and pretty "I'm Your Man, You're My Radio," which ambles along effortlessly. And he returns to this feeling with the closing and upbeat "I'm Gonna Die (Some Sunny Day)." Perhaps the only problem might be how the artist has perfected this style so well that it all begins to sound like one long and very enjoyable song. "Does It Make You Rain?" is a slightly different take, but it's basically quite similar to the previous tracks. Here the musician's voice is a bit more powerful and soulful. Assisted by members of Blue Rodeo as well as Oh Susannah on a few songs, Rutledge gives many of these songs room to breathe. A good example of this is the slower, somber "Come Summertime," which could have come directly from Adams' Cold Roses album. The first departure from this musical realm is the whispery, wistful, and barren "Backseat Honeymoon/Blue Is What I Do." The highlight is by far "The Suffering of Pepe O'Malley, Pt. 4," which starts slowly but then builds into something far grander, bringing to mind Calexico's "All Systems Red," the closing tune off Garden Ruin. Fans of Blue Rodeo circa Five Days in July would lap up "I Am with Her Where the Avalanche Begins."

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