Review | Songlines

Devil Told Me

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Ruby Mack

Label:

Ruby Mack

December/2020

Superb harmony singing, finely honed songwriting and a pointedly LBGTQ+ take on the acoustic folk and roots genre distinguish Devil Told Me, a new album by the all-female string quartet Ruby Mack. Under a moniker plucked from the Ruby McIntosh apple, which proliferates in the Pioneer Valley in the state of Massachusetts where the band lives, Emma Ayres (vocals and guitar), Abbie Duquette (bass uke), Zoe Young (guitar and vocals) and Abs Kahler (fiddle) unleash the forbidden knowledge contained within the crisp, juicy fruit by tweaking traditional song forms from a queer perspective. On ‘Milktooth’, when Ayres softly intones, ‘Mama said she’d never say my name/God would turn his back again/So I learned to live with no refrain/When I was only seventeen,’ she is, in her words, ‘rejecting the ways in which we are initially told who we are and what we are.’

For all its coming out overtones and political undercurrents, Devil Told Me also features superb instrumental performances and exquisite vocalising. Kahler punctuates ‘Black Hills’ with a gracefully soaring fiddle solo. The quartet brings their exceptional bluegrass harmony chops to bear on ‘Red Rocking Chair’. With this album, Ruby Mack slot in with the best of the contemporary prograss bands, as featured in the Essential 10 Albums of #162.

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