At 14 years old, Ruby Boots -- real name Bex Chilcott -- left a conflicted home in Perth, Western Australia to do grueling work on pearling boats, and she hasn't stopped migrating since. Her nomadic streak has taken her around the world, and eventually to Nashville, TN.
Don't Talk About It charts this drifter's odyssey, tattered passport in hand. Behind her commanding and versatile voice, sharp guitar playing, and adept songwriting, Ruby Boots confidently maneuvers past the whirlwinds life has tossed on her occasionally lost highway. It's an album of hope, breakthrough, and handling the unknown challenges around the next bend.
The roads taken, the miles traveled and the voices heard during Ruby's life's trek resonate throughout Don't Talk About It. Informed as much by the wide-open landscapes of her homeland as the intimate writing circles of Nashville, the album may range far and wide but always maintains a firm sense of place. Echoes of first wave UK power pop and jangly punk intersect with the every(wo)man indie and pop-inflected muscle of Best Coast. Classic rock touchstones from T. Rex to the girl-group-wall-of-sound to personal hero Tom Petty meld with a weary poet's eye recalling Hope Sandoval.
On her Bloodshot Records debut, Ruby continues to map out a polished-yet-fearless, bare-knuckled self, previously hinted at on her last album, Solitude. In 2016, Ruby met with Lone Star state-bred studio wizards The Texas Gentlemen and the album's eventual producer Beau Bedford. The group had stopped off in Nashville on their way to back Kris Kristofferson at Newport Folk Festival and a mutual admiration society quickly coalesced. The collective pulled a handful of songs from the 40 she had waiting and began recording at their Dallas-based studio Modern Electric Sound Recorders.
The album rips right open with "It's So Cruel," strutting through the door with dual harmonic, bawdy, fuzzed-out guitars, reminiscent of a glammy, '70s southern-rock-soaked Queens of the Stone Age. It all captures the meteoric emotional flares of an adulterous relationship destined to fail. The Gentlemen spell a Stetson-hat wearing Wrecking Crew as they lay down dusty gothic vibes in the Nikki Lane co-written "I'll Make It Through," building towards a crescendoing, persevering, bright chorus. (Lane also sings background vocals on the album's title track.) On "Believe in Heaven," doo-wop beats, dark choral echoes, and a plucked string section lead into ZZ Top full-bodied rawk riffage.
But the most defining of tones come through in spirit, when on the a capella "I Am A Woman" Ruby reaches towering vocal peaks, shredding raw, putting it all out there.The song could be a traditional spiritual, as she belts: "I am a believer / Standing strong by your side / I'm the hand to hold onto / When it's too hard to try... I am a woman / Do you know what that means / You lay it all on the line / When you lay down with me."
Of the song Chilcott says, "'I Am a Woman' was conjured up amid recent events where men have spoken about, and treated women's bodies, the way no man, or woman, should. This kind of treatment toward another human being makes every nerve in my body scream. These kinds of incidents are so ingrained in our culture and are swept under the carpet at every turn -- it needs to change. As tempting as it was to just write an angry tirade I wanted to respond with integrity, so I sat with my feelings and this song emerged as a celebration of women and womanhood, of our strength and our vulnerability, all we encompass and our inner beauty, countering ignorance and vulgarity with honesty and pride and without being exclusionary to any man or woman. My hope is that we come together on this long drawn out journey. The song is the backbone to the album for me."
Don't Talk About It smoulders with a fighting spirit and pulls influence and experience -- both musically, emotionally, and beyond -- from many pins in the map, but is 10 songs harbored in the singularity that is Ruby Boots.
The album has garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Noisey, Wide Open Country, Chicago Reader, No Depression, and more.
Since the release of Don't Talk About It, Ruby Boots has performed at Willie Nelson's Luck Reunion, Stagecoach Festival, Bonnaroo, and The Long Road Festival in the UK, as well as toured with Langhorne Slim, Nikki Lane, Nicole Atkins, Ben Miller Band, and Low Cut Connie.
"I have an almost religious belief that Mississippi is the birthplace of rock 'n' roll," says Owen Beverly, who named his
band Indianola after the small but influential delta town in his home state that produced blues artists like Albert King,
Little Arthur Duncan and B.B. King.
"It's so important to the evolution of modern rock and pop music. I think the first rock 'n' roll song ever recorded was
'That's All Right' by Arthur Crudup, who was from Forest, Mississippi, before another Mississippi boy named Elvis did
a rendition that changed the world," he says. "I can't think of any songwriters who aren't influenced by Mississippi
music, whether they know it or not."
Now based in Nashville, the Jackson native finds it more important than ever to represent those roots. One listen to
Indianola's debut full-length album, due out this fall, and it's obvious that the pressures of making it in the country
music capital haven't swayed his approach. "It's always better to be the black sheep than to get lost in the herd," he
Beginning with the arena-ready anthem "1960s," Beverly wears his vintage influences on his sleeve, acknowledging
the musical past while planting the song firmly in the present with searing guitars and pounding drums.
Songs like "Want Me Back" and "Too Good To Be True" put Beverly's powerful, swooning vocals in the spotlight with
nods to artists like Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, and The Everly Brothers that nonetheless feel current.
"There's a novelty in digging up the past that feels like excavation. You end up being a filter for everything you dig."
he says. "I think using those vintage elements but throwing in some modern edge gives the recordings dimension. If
you just make music that sounds like it was written and recorded forty years ago, it turns into a period piece. So I just
try to be honest with myself, draw on all of those influences, and put them together in a way that makes them my
Beverly teamed up with Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope to produce Indianola's previous EP release, 'Zero.' For the
new album, he traveled to South Carolina to record at the band's studio. Trent can be heard singing harmonies on
Mid Century Modern.
Indianola will showcase new music on the road this summer and fall, including dates with Shovels & Rope, Butch
Walker, and The Watson Twins. For updated list of tour dates, visit: indianolamusic.com