Once in a while you come across an album that you have no expectations of and by the time the final song plays its last bars, your jaw is on the floor. You rush back to the start to take it all in again and write off a few hours repeating the cycle. Cold Comfort is one of those albums and it’s sure to take Ruthie Collins from a name that sounds vaguely familiar into one of the genre’s brightest rising stars.
Raised on a farm in Fredonia, New York, Ruthie Collins released her debut album Get Drunk and Cry in 2017. Inspired by her idols Emmylou Harris and Patty Griffin, Ruthie has crafted her own blend of Americana, Bluegrass and modern Country. Three years on from her debut, Ruthie is back with her new record Cold Comfort. The song comprises 11 songs and follows a difficult period in Ruthie’s life that was filled with pain, emotion and dealing with a partner’s addiction.
Opening with the sweeping Joshua Tree, you can’t help but be drawn in by the fragility and emotion of Ruthie’s voice. At times she sounds so fragile, you wonder if she’ll make it to the end of the song but at others there’s such warmth and strength, not to mention guts, driving through the melody. The song depicts the iconic California location while also detailing a meeting between Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. If the sound of Ruthie’s voice doesn’t grab you, the depth of the lyrics will.
Not a single moment is wasted on Cold Comfort. From referencing Patty Griffin on the upbeat Cheater that deals with feeling like you’re cheating on an ex through to the captivating beautiful lullaby feel of closer Beg Steal Borrow, Ruthie proves herself to be a tour-de-force that can turn her hand to anything. An early highlight is the beautiful Dang Dallas, a song dripping with regret that was inspired by a friend of Ruthie’s who decided to throw in the towel with his music career to get a ‘real’ job.
The sequencing of Cold Comfort is masterful. Moving from the gorgeous Dang Dallas to the harder-edged Hey Little Girl, Ruthie keeps the listener on their toes and guessing what she’s going to do next. If you’re not floored by the stunning Untold, as Ruthie’s vocals soar to heights that make your spine tingle and a tale of heartbreak unfolds, then you may need to go check your pulse.
Elsewhere on the record the moody Bad Woman throws light and shade as Ruthie contemplates temptation, the big ballad Change allows Ruthie’s powerful vibrato to shine, and the piano-led You Can’t Remember delves into her relationship with an addict while breaking your heart at the same time. Two of the finest tracks are the storming title track Cold Comfort, a song that’s destined to be a radio hit, and tear-jerking Wish You Were Here where Ruthie pines for a lover that she knows is pining for someone else.
Cold Comfort is an absolutely stunning record. There’s actually nothing bad to say about it at all. The production, the vocals, the songwriting, the arrangements… everything is so damn perfect. Ruthie takes you deep into her world and you can’t get through the record without feeling changed in some way. This album is powerful, it’s moving and it’s exactly why music is so important.
Track list: 1. Joshua Tree 2. Cheater 3. Dang Dallas 4. Hey Little Girl 5. Untold 6. Bad Woman 7. Change 8. Cold Comfort 9. Wish You Were Here 10. You Can’t Remember 11. Beg Steal Borrow Record label: Curb Records Release date: 3rd April 2020 Buy Cold Comfort