Emily Beanblossom moved to Austin, TX after the release of Pith, her charming debut album as Ruby Fray. The change of scenery brought out different sides of her music on her second album Grackle -- named after a bird common to Texas -- some of which are more successful than others. Beanblossom foregoes some of Pith's playful eclecticism to go deeper into her music's witchy, ethereal aspects. At times, Grackle sounds like a cross between Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks, especially on "Carry Me Down," where delicate keyboards and backing vocals hold hands with some surprisingly fiery rock. Later, "Photograph" flickers between romantic and creepy as Beanblossom wails "I'll keep that photograph if you leave now." Tracks such as "Barbara" and "It's Mine" showcase her growing finesse with dynamic shifts as they build from spectral to towering, but occasionally Pith's pithiness is missed. "Grackle," which sounds like it was made out of swirling smoke and black chiffon, is a slow-burning seven minutes laced with graceful strings, but it and "Anthony" (an admittedly nice showcase for Beanblossom's vocal chops) just aren't as captivating as the more concise songs. Often, Ruby Fray's vignettes, like the Beach House-esque bookends "You Should Go" and "Reprise," are more affecting than her epics. Even if Grackle lacks some of Pith's spark, it's a cohesive and often haunting album that gives a clearer idea of what Beanblossom wants Ruby Fray to be.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares