I Survived, It's Over

Rich Ruth

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I Survived, It's Over Review

by Timothy Monger

Rich Ruth is something of an odd bird amid the modern musical landscape. A Rust Belt Midwesterner who now calls Nashville home, his peculiar stylistic palette encompasses spiritual jazz, ambient electronic, new age, and kosmische, with searing electric guitar solos that rip through his work like bolts of lightning. Weather patterns are in fact a direct influence, as much of his second LP was written after a series of tornadoes nearly devastated his neighborhood. Ruth's self-released 2019 debut, Calming Signals, was a therapeutic and often cathartic work and its follow-up, I Survived, It's Over, is perhaps even more so. His first release for Jack White's Third Man label, the seven-track set sizzles with wild energy as he fuses life's dramas into rangy instrumental swirls of joy, fury, confusion, and healing. With song titles like "Older But Not Less Confused" and "Desensitization and Reprocessing," Ruth reflects his tenuous position within life's roiling current. This is a big part of what makes his music so fascinating and immediate. Human emotions are never just one thing; moments of personal tranquility and hope can be immediately interrupted by one dark thought that cascades into a million competing feelings. Ruth's compositions feel like that. Lush track beds of smooth synths and tinkling electric piano are suddenly beset by unkempt saxophone growls and howling guitar licks, flickering back and forth in a thrilling light/dark confusion. On the mesmeric "Thou Mayest" he combines odd bedfellows like harp, pedal steel, sax, and overdriven drums in a wicked jam session that coalesces into mighty harmonic stacks before dissolving into a collage of Balearic synth patterns and fiery samples of evangelical preachers. It's the kind of musical pastiche that might have grown out of America's more diverse coastal music hubs or even Europe, but feels unexpected in Music City. Scaling back, though, it makes a kind of sense. Ruth's complicated panoply of sounds might be global in its approach, but his sense of spirituality and emotional intensity reflect some of the Bible Belt's most hard-wired tenets.

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