Emma Ruth Rundle

Emma Ruth Rundle

Jaye Jayle

Sat, September 22, 2018

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

PhilaMOCA

Philadelphia, PA

$13.00 - $15.00

This event is all ages

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Emma Ruth Rundle
Emma Ruth Rundle
The cover to Emma Ruth Rundle’s fourth solo record, On Dark Horses, bears a blurry photo of the songwriter obscuring her face with a large toy horse with broken legs. The photo suggests something candid but also hidden, graceful but also fractured—a fitting portrait for an artist who has established a career by vacillating between shrouding herself in mystery and exposing her wounds to the world. Her first solo release, Electric Guitar: One, was a collection of Frippian guitar instrumentals written and recorded in the backseat of a tour van during her tenure in Red Sparowes. It’s a record devoid of context, revealing nothing of Rundle’s personal narrative. The first peek behind the curtain came with Some Heavy Ocean, where layers of distortion were excised in favor of acoustic guitar and Rundle’s beguiling vocals. There was a distinct difference by the time Rundle released Marked For Death, a stark and deeply personal meditation on mortality and self-destructive behavior. Her entire musical trajectory—from the cinematic instrumentals of Red Sparowes to the lush haze of Marriages and onward through her solo career—seems like a gradual disclosure of intimate secrets. With On Dark Horses, Rundle doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable realities or retreat into a private world, but it does capture an artist who has survived their personal nadir and come out stronger on the other side.

“In the wake of weak beginnings, we can still stand high,” Rundle sings over banks of electrified minor chords and ghostly guitar leads on “Darkhorse”. It’s a statement of purpose and a recurring motif throughout the album. “The record is about overcoming—understanding and embracing the crippling situation and then growing beyond it,” Rundle says. “Horses keep working their way into the lyrics and visual dimension of this record. They’re powerful and beautiful yet not free really. So the dark horse works for me in a visual way, as a representation of a contained force that will win the race or exceed the expectation of society and self.” The horse metaphor takes a darker turn on the reverb-soaked gothic Americana song “Races”, where Rundle draws a parallel between alcoholism and being a “touring vampire wastoid… creeping around in the night dragged along by the need.”

Taking the full arrangements of Marked For Death on the road demanded a backing band, which Rundle pieced together from tour companions—first Dylan Nadon from Wovenhand and Git Some and later Evan Patterson and Todd Cook from Jaye Jayle. Rundle’s budding romance with Patterson prompted a move to Louisville, Kentucky, which not only amplified the equestrian themes of the record but also yielded a new writing process. “This the first time I haven’t played all the guitars on my own record,” Rundle says of Patterson’s contributions to the writing process. “It was stressful letting go but it was also rewarding.” The collaboration worked both ways, with Rundle contributing to Jaye Jayle’s No Trails and Other Unholy Paths. That album’s “Marry Us” mirrors On Dark Horses’ “Light Song”, with the union of Rundle’s siren vocals and Patterson’s poised baritone conjuring a dizzying and feverish update on the duets of Johnny Cash and June Carter.

True to the empowering mission statement of On Dark Horses, album opener “Fever Dreams” speaks of “a life spent uneasy / in pieces, always in pieces / life rent completely” but still exudes an overall air of vitality and strength. It charges out of the gate with an intensity that continues in the duality of dream pop and distorted deluges on “Control” and onto the haunting guitars, galloping percussion, and majestic vocal delivery of album centerpiece “Darkhorse”. The eight tracks of On Dark Horses capture the evolution of Rundle as an artist, with vestigial traces of the savvy guitar work of Electric Guitar: One, the siren song beauty of Some Heavy Ocean, and the amplified urgency of Marked For Death all factoring into the album’s rich tapestry. Rundle arrives at the end of the album with an ode to a traumatized and heartbroken friend on the grand and triumphant “You Don’t Have To Cry”. After laboring over the majority of the material for the album, she wrote the finale in one sitting, describing its easy birth as a gift from the gods. It’s a fitting closer, a song announcing Rundle’s newfound hope and reminding us to take control during our darkest moments instead of succumbing to them.
Jaye Jayle
Jaye Jayle
“Anyone who is using more than two chords is just showing off.”

Woodie Guthrie’s famous quote became a mantra for young musicians who rallied around folk’s austerity, and later inspired a new generation of artists who basked in punk’s primitivism. Guthrie’s songs may not be an influence on Louisville’s Jaye Jayle, but his call for simplicity as a deliberate choice versus a matter of mere ability resonated with the veterans of Kentucky’s dark indie scene. Naming themselves Jaye Jayle as a pen name or a pseudonym to veer away from a traditional band moniker, the group sought to eliminate unnecessary variables and deconstruct their compositions down to their most concentrated essence. Jaye Jayle owe less to our nation’s roots music and more to peripheral rock bands that have taken the “less is more” attitude to its furthest reaches. Imagine Spacemen 3 without the saturated wall of distortion, or Neu! without the upbeat motorik pulse, or Lungfish without the shamanistic howls. But these reference points seem either too bombastic or too lush. Perhaps a nexus of The Troggs’ ham-fisted drumming, Angels of Light’s ominous twang, and Suicide’s swaths of negative space hits closer to the mark, but even that doesn’t do the band justice. Jaye Jayle’s debut album House Cricks and Other Excuses To Get Out is an exercise in tension and restraint, a tightrope act between singer-songwriter traditions and art rock experimentation, and an intersection of Southern cultural permutations and otherworldly sounds.
Venue Information:
PhilaMOCA
531 North 12th St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
http://www.philamoca.org/