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Ruth Minnikin - Ruth Minnikin Ep

  by Emma Haigh

published: 5 / 8 / 2004

Ruth Minnikin - Ruth Minnikin Ep
Label: Minnikin
Format: CDS


Gothic debut EP from Ruth Minnikin, one of the founding members of much acclaimed Canadian alt. country/folk act, the Guthries

The Canadian Gothic is not normally something associated with Canada’s musical community. The unfortunate successes of an anorexic warbler, a rhinestoned megalith and a man so bland an ex-Spice Girl jumped at the chance to sing with him hardly recall a cannon that includes the darkly subversive and brooding artistry of Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro. Yet if you think of some of Canada’s most famous exports (David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyen, Leonard Cohen) you will recognise this underlying quality that is so indelibly Canadian. A deeply sartorial vision of minute beauty and a depth of storytelling links even the most seemingly opposed. Within the Canadian music scene a new breed is emerging. Sloan, Joel Plaskett, the John Henrys, the Marble Index, Feist, even the pretty-boy diet-Strokes posturing of the Stills, and most recently on this side of the pond, Ruth Minnikin. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ruth Minnikin is probably best known as one of the founding members of the Guthries. Based out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, the Guthries were born out of the Booming Airplanes in August 1998. Led by brothers Dale and Brian Murray (nephews of Anne Murray), brother and sister Gabriel and Ruth Minnikin, and Matt Mays, they released their debut 'Off Windmill' to international acclaim. Mays departed in 2001, and though they enjoyed further success with second album, 'The Guthries' (2002), much to the dismay of their fans they disbanded altogether in 2003. More a case of too much talent, too many ideas, and not enough time to put them all out together, than of creative differences, it was an amicable split, and the brothers all are featured on Ruth’s break into a solo career. Only a little longer than your average EP, Ruth Millikin is quite disgracefully too short. A mere seventeen minutes, it was recorded live off the floor in one evening last summer. Drawing from the gifts of Rose Cousins, Anna Plaskett (sister to Joel), Adam Puddington, and fellow ex-Guthries Gabe Minnikin, and Brian and Dale Murray, Ruth’s self-titled solo debut serves as a who’s who in Canada’s rising talent. Deceptively sparse acoustic arrangements and Minnlikin’s subtle hallow voice are supported by gorgeous six-part harmonies, french horn (Plaskett), percussion (Puddington), and mandolin (Gabe Minnikin). Minnikin’s desire to create a song-based album is immediately apparent, her deft eloquence and intelligent verse taking centre-stage so that each song stands distinctive as the last with the instrumentation bearing the sole purpose of lending atmospheric accuracy . Lines like "I can feel that this heavy heart has got me slowing right down" with the deliberate leaden tempo in 'This Heavy Heart' perfectly invokes being laden down with grief and confusion after a relationship fails. The whimsical fable of 'Done Wherthe Mexico', in which vines and spiders growing around a house become troops that ‘stand their post and protect the house’ from infestation of summer pests, is made yet more fanciful by tripping mandolin and hushed strains of french horn. The astute depictions of how the Canadian winter can shut down and entire town in 'Snow Day' are enhanced by giggles and jesting between the performers. The resulting atmosphere is one of being wrapped up inside while the day whiles away quietly outside. In short, this is an album seeped in Canadian Gothic. Its crisp spontaneity delivers a grainy, homey quality that is permeated with lyrical intimacy and well-worn authenticity, leaving the listener craving still more from this delicate Canadian songstress. ****Ruth Minnikin and fellow recent solo breakout Kate Maki recently finished a cross-Canada tour that was entirely independently organized and promoted by the two. Ruth will begin touring in the UK with Gabe Minnikin come autumn 2004.

Track Listing:-
1 Maiden Voyage
2 This Heavy Heart
3 Amy's Moon
4 Dono Whertho Mexico
5 Snow Day

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Interview (2005)
Ruth Minnikin - Interview
Former Guthries star Ruth Minnikin has just self-released her debut album, 'Marooned and Blue'. She talks to Emma Haigh about it, and why she intends to remain totally independent

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