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  • Jonathan Widran

RUARK, When You Coming Home

If someone played tunes from Ruark’s debut album When You Coming Home for you without telling you they’re an emerging indie trio from South Arkansas, your ears might think you’ve stumbled onto some cool Bob Dylan bootlegs or – considering their overall swampy rawness – some tracks from the legend that missed that last studio polish.

That’s testament to the amblin, ramblin’ folksy and laid-back Americana drawl of lead singer Ruark Inman, who also proves himself a solid guitarist and clever and thoughtful storyteller. Beyond the cool Dylanesque flow, one of the most remarkable aspects of this always engaging full length collection is just how big and bold a sound the band creates with only Inman on guitarist and lead vocals, Alexa Joyce on bass and background vocals and Jeff Greer on drums.

They tap into the spirit of straightforward rock and roll while drawing at times from alt-rock and grunge, punk and emo, indie and soft rock. From song to song, it’s the proverbial Forrest Gump like box of very tasty chocolates. Their vocal textures, which some have insightfully termed “baroque pop harmonies,” create a powerful emotional depth that transcends the core sound of Inman’s rough soul voice and crisp guitar lines.

On songs like the nostalgic, reflective “Sweet Senseless World,” for instance, the trio builds on a hypnotic and soulful groove foundation with the colorful intertwining of Inman’s grit and Joyce’s dreamier voice. The hilarious, lighthearted romp “Sick of It” starts with jangly guitars, exotic percussion and her nifty wordless scatting. Though it’s not their most clever song lyrically, perhaps their best shot at a mainstream Americana audience is the lively, easy rolling mid-tempo title track, the perfect self-deprecating and sick of the B.S. but still I’m lonely and full of regret breakup song.

When Inman asks, “All of the time, wondering why you ever picked a guy like me,” the attuned listener might say, “Because we never know what cool, crazy musical thing you and your cohorts are gonna do next.”

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