Jay Ruffin

Skeleton Key

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Part of the long thread of artists who mix country and power pop in equal doses (think Continental Drifters, Minus Five, Walter Clevenger, Ray Mason, the Morells and Nick Lowe, for starters), Mississippi-born and bred singer/songwriter Jay Ruffin is an Americana natural. His debut album Skeleton Key twangs and pops in roughly equal doses, filled with rollicking songs about the usual topics, just about all of which involve women in the starring roles. "Bigger Stones" (which makes excellent use of the classic "Needles and Pins" / "So Sad About Us" jangly guitar riff) is the immediate standout, but Ruffin is such an unpretentiously earnest singer and canny songwriter, with an appealing Everyman voice and a way with catchy guitar riffs, that all of Skeleton Key is a low-key, rootsy delight.

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