Far removed from her Riot Grrrl days fronting Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena, Katie Jane Garside has returned under the moniker of Ruby Throat, with her brand new album Stone Dress (released via One Little Indian on 9th November). Garside has firmly remained a Grrrl at the front on her new venture; but everything else is stripped back, turned down, and mellowed out – revealing her softer side.
“After ten, fifteen years, I was done with the assault of drums and guitars obliterating me” explains Garside. “[It’s] a beautiful thing, on the one hand, but I enforced on Ruby Throat that it should be mainly acoustic, and there should be no drums. I wanted the voice to lead it, without being held down by someone else’s rhythm.” Accompanied by her long-time partner Chris Whittingham, Garside achieves just that on Stone Dress.
The title track showcases her gentle, wispy vocals which flow over carefully picked guitar for seven full minutes. The opener has particular significance for Garside, as she wrote it whilst pregnant with her daughter – which explains the cautious, dark-lullaby quality of her lyrics: “My stone dress is me walking through the world, weighed down by the agony of life, but I’m swimming with birds because, in utero, I’ve got a baby inside”.
The mythical sounding ‘Swan and the Minotaur’ follows like a haunting fable, with the relatable lyric “I’m in love with a troubled man” repeated in heartfelt style. ‘Also Elizabeth Daughter Of The Above’ is another fairytale-esque offering, with Garside’s wild wails counteracted by her softer, story-telling. The exquisitely rough ‘Dog Song’ is definitely one of the strongest tracks on the record, with brash lyrics and an infectious rhythm, allowing Garside to master her quiet-to-loud vocal delivery perfectly, whilst Whittingham’s reverb-strewn guitar guides her along.
‘Bus Stop On Holloway Road’ hosts tender reflections on time and place, people and their situations, whilst following track ‘Beneath My Undress’ is an understated, revealing ballad. ‘In The Arms Of Flowers’ sounds as poetic as its namesake, with Garside’s whispers lulling listeners through their “darkest hour”, and the wonderfully named ‘Marybell (rides Into Town On A Pig)’ has unusual swagger for an acoustic track, with the pair’s musical and lyrical convictions painting a vivid image of Marybell astride her chosen beast.
Garside gathers her thoughts on ‘Rake’, before her hushed vocals on ‘Billows Her Skirt’ act like the breeze that moves the fabric of her garments – her harmonies rising and falling in sublime style. Penultimate track ‘Hu’u’ flows in the same vein, before ‘Ghost Boy’ closes the record on an ethereal, tuneful note.
Existing fans of Katie Jane Garside’s music will be stunned by her simplistic approach on Ruby Throat’s debut Stone Dress, and new fans will be entirely captivated by her honest, intriguing new venture. Well worth a listen.
Order your copy of Ruby Throat’s debut album Stone Dress here.