Fossil: a past preserved.
Scale: a measure.
Inspiration comes in many shapes and guises, and for Ruth the discovery of a ‘mutant fish’ by Russian fishermen was the inspiration to cast her own net and reel in her perceptions; via (musical) hooks, (poetic) lines and deep-thinking.
The prefixes dis and des denote ‘reversal/removal/part’ and this album is riddled with these tangible feelings. Themes of dislocation, displacement, distance, despondence and disappearance abound. Palpable feelings of space, place and time are evident as her terrain and expansive environment imbue and inform the (he)art and message(s) similar to Pulp’s tales of (sub)urbania or Dizzee Rascal’s ‘street-slang-sonics’.
Let’s descend …
Distance: ‘The Doldrums’ references ‘not being in Kansas anymore’, Dorothy’s des-res before being whisked off to Oz, the song featuring back-vox by Meilyr ‘ex-Race Horse’ Jones (and also on ‘When I was Blue’). Harp-heart-strings tug away and pull apart and halfway through the song detours into an Abbey Roadish chop-changing interlude. Elegiac and dolorous, the chimes of the climes echo throughout. Movement equals metamorphosis.
Dissonance: ‘Cloudbroke’ nods to Kate Bush in its metaphorical behind/beneath the clouds lurks blue, a blue of clear skies and/or blue of water/tears, blue of emotion. Of which, there is more to come.
Dislocation: The titular ‘Fossil Scale’ the ‘alien’ creature with the ‘reptile head and fossilised scales’ captures the ‘lost and found’ sense of waywardness and peripateticism , the sense of being out of ‘your’ natural habitat.
Displacement: ‘Grand Tour’ invokes Icarus’s flying to flee, dying in vain and burnt by the Sun. The desire to escape is intoned: ‘Wanderlust is just a refuge for the lonely’ begging the question what are you running away from/towards? With the answer ‘You can never run away from yourself’.
Despondence: ‘When I was blue’ both mentions and evinces Harold Pinter’s raw and stripped back anatomical/forensic plays, the revealing of truth brings the onset of pain.
Disinterment: ‘The Bodies’ details how the physical body stays in(animate), at home, still, alone, watch/view ‘moving’ bodies (life) via a mediating screen. Excavate, reveal and uncover the inner-self.
Disc-cover: The Welsh-sung ‘Sylvia’ (original by psych-folker Meic Stevens) is finger-pickin’ good.
Destination: ‘Good Milk’ ‘ … go sour, good geese go south, good girls go wild’ signifies change, an out with the old in with the new and a ‘Damascene conversion’. Some birds are flying and fleeing whereas the ‘homing pigeon’ returns: ‘Home, home, home’ Ruth (de)cries, a return/retreat to redemption and rapprochement? Home is where the art (always) is.
Despairing yet never desperate there are echoes of Dory Previn’s fragility and vulnerability throughout, there is deep melancholy within, but it is never hope-less. An album that is both musically (from sparse arrangements to subdued grandeur) and lyrically outstanding. Real ether/ethereal.
The moment of Ruth is now. It is (y)our destiny.