Album Reviews

Ruth B – Moments In Between

(Downtown) UK release date: 18 June 2021

Ruth B - Moments In Between It seems strange to be waxing nostalgic about an app which was popular less than a decade ago, but that’s the ephemerous nature of living in the 21st century. Vine was a micro-vlogging site that was pretty huge in the first half of last decade – think of a TikTok video, but only lasting six seconds, and looped to all infinity.

It sounds odd now, but Vine briefly became a platform for breaking new acts – amongst them Ruth Berhe, an Ethiopian-Canadian singer/songwriter who uploaded several six second cover versions to the app in 2013. Just three years later, she was in the studio with Lorde‘s producer to record her debut album, Safe Haven.

Ruth B, as she’s otherwise known, has now produced the follow-up and it’s a pretty smooth sequel. It’s 10 tracks (plus a 30-second ‘interlude) of flawlessly produced and performed pop-soul songs. Incredibly relaxed and mellow, it will suit anyone who’s desperately waiting for that new Adele album to be released.

Princess Peach opens the album, an ode to independence and self-reliance – “I like to rescue myself, I’ve always been my own hero” – with hints of vulnerability bubbling underneath (“I’m scared of asking for help, even when I’m stuck at zero” runs one line). The piano and strings keep the song floating along, and it’s a good example of how easy it is to become cosily entrenched into Ruth B’s world.

The sound of Moments In Between is more varied than her debut – Holiday is laid-back but with some slight disco dust scattered over it, and Favourite is a summery anthem built upon an acoustic guitar that shows off Berhe’s voice to its very best advantage.

Of course, that means that there aren’t too many surprises contained in Moments In Between. For all the sheen and professionalism displayed on the album, it’s impossible not to sometimes want a bit more grit. The best moments on the album are when it takes an unexpected turn – Die Fast, one of the best songs, sounds like it could have come from a Regina Spektor album with its jerky piano and multi-tracked harmonies. Situation is another highlight, a plea to a lover to clarify their relationship, which is dreamy, hypnotic and slightly spacey.

It can all start to sound a bit samey though, especially towards the mid-point of the album. Sweet Chamomile and Spaceship fail to convey any of Berhe’s personality, and just sound like generic soul-pop songs – they’re nice enough, but could have been churned out by anyone over the past few years. Dirty Nikes is almost too laid-back, it becomes so slow-paced that you’re in danger of nodding off halfway through.

And yet, Berhe’s impressive voice can carry even the weaker moments on Moments In Between. While there’s nothing revolutionary or life-changing contained on her second album, there’s enough to indicate that a long and successful career could stretch ahead of her.

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Ruth B – Moments In Between