Ruarri Joseph is a British singer-songwriter from Newquay in Cornwall. To date, he has released three albums, and this review is of his debut album which was released in 2007. Ruarri is a wonderfully honest performer who wears his heart on his sleeve and makes no secret of the fact that his career has been turbulent to say the least, with disagreements between him and various recording labels making it difficult for him to reach the fame he deserves.
The track listing for this album is as follows:
2. Won't Work
4. Early Morning Remedy
5. Baby Finn
6. Tales of Grime and Grit
7. Cuddles Are the Best Thing
8. Infant Eyes
9. Faces, Movements and Cheats
10. More Rock and Roll
11. Relying On Lying
12. Summercourt Fair 1995
The thing I love most about Ruarri's music is that the songs are written about his life and personal experiences, and they're a bit different to the usual love songs and not at all cheesy. The style of his music is simple and acoustic, no fanfares or special effects here. I can honestly say there isn't a song I don't like on this album and it's quite difficult to pick highlights because I love the album so much, but below I've picked out a few of my absolute favourites.
Probably my favourite song on this album, which always makes me smile despite being quite a slow song, is "More Rock and Roll". This is a lovely song about Ruarri feeling like now he's made a success of his music career, he should be behaving like a rock star, but in reality he's just a really nice family man and would rather be home with a cup of tea. This song has some of the nicest lyrics written in my opinion, with the chorus stating "I may look the part, but I know in my heart that I'd rather be home with the wife". It's slow but quite catchy and the lyrics always make me smile, especially as he describes himself as "a geek without style". It makes me think this is what I would be like if I ever became famous!
"Baby Finn" is one of my favourites and is about the birth of his first child who they named Finn before finding out whether it was going to be a boy or girl. The song is basically about the love he already feels for his child even though it hasn't been born yet, and the mother must have been so proud to hear the lyrics "you'll be strong just like your mum, my baby girl or my baby son" and "I've got years of time and hope, I know that all of us will cope".
The title song on this album is "Tales of Grime and Grit" which is good but not my favourite song of Ruarri's. It's a little grittier than his other songs (no pun intended) and I find it a little repetitive although it has some lovely lyrics and is summed up by the chorus:
"Wisdom waits for you to shine
It's the hardest thing in life
Chasing dreams but getting dust
Stretching friendship stretching trust"
I remember seeing Ruarri perform this song at Glastonbury back at the beginning of his career when he hadn't been around for long. He was performing in one of the tents where the stages are small, and there were about ten of us watching him, which I think was mainly made up of his family! He had his wellies on, and as he was singing this one he kept tapping his feet on the stage in rhythm with the beat, there was mud flying everywhere but seeing him perform was one of my Glastonbury highlights as it was such an intimate, personal performance.
"Cuddles are the Best Thing" is a really soppy sounding title but is another song where Ruarri wears his heart on his sleeve, with lines such as "Hold your hands up if you like the ones who whisper when you're sick, and keep your water levels right up" which I find really cute because I think a lot of love songs these days focus on the wrong things and forget that real love is about things like looking after your partner when they're not well and not just all about sexy underwear and glamorous nights out!
The final song I'd like to mention is "Infant Eyes" which is such a beautiful song it always manages to bring a tear to my eye, and I don't even have children! It's about things the way children see them, which I can only presume it's based on his own child. The song begins by describing a picture his child has drawn for him:
"That picture that you drew of me, I want to get it framed
Or stick it to the fridge with magnets that spell out your name
My eyes aren't green, my hair's not black, I only have two heads
My head is on my shoulders and my feet aren't made of sand"
Another line from this song that makes me smile is "If toys could talk I'd bet they'd say they've never felt so loved" as he describes his child looking after his toys and giving them cuddles. The chorus to this song is oh so true: "I tell you what, I think it's true, us grown ups should be like you, and think our actions through, and see the world like you do". I think even though I don't have children, I do have children in the family (and am quite broody at the moment!) so this song always makes me feel a little emotional because it reminds me how beautifully simple children see the world, and sometimes just spending time with children puts everything in perspective. I'd definitely recommend anyone with kids should check out this song.
For anyone who hasn't heard of Ruarri Joseph, which I imagine will be most of you, I would probably describe his style as being similar to Ed Sheeran, only Ruarri's voice isn't quite as smooth. He has a great voice, but it's a bit more weathered. The acoustic style is the same though, and their style of songwriting is similar as they both write about what I call "real" things, it's just a shame Ruarri Joseph never got settled with a decent record label, as he's very much an underestimated and unknown artist.