The Riot Grrrl attitude is living vicariously through Ruby Sue’s debut album, The Need, but make no mistake, she is an icon of her own making. The true definition of punk is a little hazy these days, but if it doesn’t encompass an artist bringing classical strings into a visceral protest of alienation, what is even the point?
Usually, there is little resonance to be found in coming-of-age albums for anyone that isn’t… coming of age, but The Need extends a sense of compassion for the unheard that can stretch across the generations. Even at 32 years old, the singles, especially the title single, struck a raw note within me.
The sweet melodious temperament of Taylor Swift, the nostalgic comfort of Brandi Carlile and the protestive grungy furore of Courtney Love all fuse together to make The Need an LP that is as cathartic as it is anarchically emboldening. The Minneapolis singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist clearly has a natural talent when it comes to consoling expression with her lyricism that lays it all bare in true rock star fashion.
With some of the singles, such as the mostly instrumental Let Me Out, the violin and viola strings bring an extra edge of cutting emotion, ensuring that there’s no getting to the end of this LP until you’ve felt an unholy amount of empathy for anyone enduring the process of growing into adulthood in these times that can send you off-kilter in a single heartbeat.
In her own words, here is what Ruby Sue had to say about her debut album:
“During my gap year between high school and college last year, I was feeling lost and trying to find myself; I found music. I’ve always been a musician, but music was the only thing that felt right when everything else felt off. The lyrics and melodies rushed out of me like a burst dam.
The Need tells a true story of needing to be seen, heard and experience life. Growing up isn’t easy; it can feel daunting and lonely; the ultimate message is that if you feel the need to be seen, you are not alone.”
The Need is now available to stream on Spotify.
Review by Amelia Vandergast