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  • Jonathan Widran

RUARK, Waiting on a Breeze

I'm thrilled beyond every one of Ruark Inman’s clever turns of phrase and ambling, Gibson LG1 acoustic guitar licks (wildly modulated at times to approximate the gritty fire of an electric) that his band’s second album Waiting on a Breeze isn’t my first rodeo with them.


I had the pleasure of checking out and raving about the raw, rockin Americana-plus trio’s 2019 debut When You Coming Home, comparing the singer’s freewheeling vibe and lawless drawl to “cool Bob Dylan bootlegs,” praising his artistry as a “clever and thoughtful storyteller,” an complementing the “big and bold” sound of the Smackover, AR trio, which includes Inman’s wife Alexa Joyce on bass and gorgeous harmony vocals (not to mention occasional poetic inspiration) and her brother, drummer Joseph Bethany, powering the sometimes subtle, but increasingly propulsive grooves.


Gotta stand by all of that, because it’s pure crazy-empowering, alternately lyrical and rumbling bliss when the stylistically eclectic rush of that titular breeze starts to engulf the senses. Though the rough coolness of the sound is the immediate draw, those who were with me on the first album will immediately notice more incredible rockin’ than before – starting with the spirited jangle and boom of the opening track “Don’t Look Back” (which reminds us that new love is always lurking out there) and continuing on with the blistery, funky punch of “Over Me” (a crafty, offbeat moving on tune) and on through the cryptic, plucky and fiery chaos of the Bible-inspired “Brave Eyes.”


The real fun of a Ruark epic, though, lies in their ability to shapeshift and genre- hop at the flick of a guitar string, which happens when they leave the “lets get more rockin’” zone and to the dreamy, flamenco-tinged finger-picking of “Out of Ashes” (which looks insightfully at war from literal and metaphorical perspectives) and the irresistible old school country double whammy of the jingle-jangle, filtered vocal singalong “Long Way Rolling” and “Love Is Destiny,” an uber-romantic ode to the Sun Records’ flavored country/rock fusion energy of the early rock era. Balancing the extra rock sizzle of the album is the title track closer, a whimsical acoustic gem about sitting by a campfire and enjoying nature, inspired by a quote from Ikkyū, a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet.

 

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