Photo Credit: Cal Quinn
The welcome energy offered by a character as compelling and empowered as Bex Chilcott AKA Ruby Boots is quite infectious. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and her imminent sophomore album exudes this sentiment as she tells stories of hope, breakthrough and rising up in the face of a challenge.
If you are not yet acquainted, Ruby‘s sound is a well-rounded blend of Australian roots and Americana. Influenced by her homeland soil as much as that of Nashville, a place that she describes as her second home. It comes as no surprise considering she is a self-confessed nomad, leaving a broken home and living independently since the early age of 14. Despite perturbed beginnings, there is a firm sense of home in her music.
Ruby Boots admits that the life she has lived absolutely comes out through in her music; with a forceful early exposition into adulthood comes a buildup of resilience. She stresses that though resilience is imperative to survival, there must be a balance and that comfortable vulnerability at the other side is also a strength.
Travelling yearly to Nashville since 2012, this sophomore album comes off the back of her 5th visit, alluringly titled: Don’t Talk About It. The album is a timely offering in the current socio-political climate in which unwelcome, old-fashioned views of women’s rights and therefore their bodies are weaselling their way out of the woodwork. Ruby Boots‘ newest body of work powerfully relinquishes the conversation back where it belongs, to the voice of a woman. Ruby described the track ‘I Am A Woman’, a serene, heartbreaking and sparse offering, as the backbone and thematic resource for the album. Over the phone, Ruby went in depth regarding the theme’s origin: “ [the conversation] spiked a lot of pain for me – I wanted to write a song that wasn’t exclusionary, I wanted to invite people in to a much better way of viewing the situation and to shine a light on everything that we are as women, which is how amazing we are.” Lyrically the message and her delivery constantly ride the fine line between strength and vulnerability – singing “I am a believer/ Standing strong by your side/ I’m the hand to hold onto/ When it’s too hard to try… I am a woman” – a motif which she felt was carried across the board with this album. Ruby Boots proves to be a necessary voice. The subject matter and her angle of approach are undeniably powerful.
She recently completed a residency in 2015 in Nashville via The Australian Council for The Arts. Ruby Boots was the first woman to be awarded this opportunity. Speaking on this we delve a little deeper into Ruby‘s feminist manifesto, as strong and sure as the woman herself. Ruby states that the magnifying glass in this conversation needs to be on the disparity of opportunities given as opposed to how the sexes compare to one another in work, because at the end of the day we are all doing the same things. Having worked with producers such as Australia’s Anna Laverty and America’s Beau Bedford, she is more conscious about what each person brings to the table – regardless of who they are.
Before setting off to Nashville for her last trip, Ruby Boots was generally working three jobs as well as self-managing her project, and the writing of the album. This time was very different. Of the residency itself, Ruby said that “being afforded the time and the financial support to write the record and be an artist, that was a dream come true and I feel like I was able to really focus – I’m a lot more proud of the work I’ve produced this time.” A testament to this statement, she added that it would be impossible to pick a favourite track out of the 10 in this album, loving each for their own unique reasons.
The entire process of the album took place in the USA, Ruby working with producer Beau Bedford together managing to narrow down 40 songs to just 10. Ruby says ultimately her core confidence was there in the ideas for the album, but on the flip side, she describes the relatable experience of dilemmas of self-critic and the self-doubt that follows all too well. The nurturing nature and wealth of musical knowledge and abilities from Beau is a comforting addition. She harboured appreciation of his ability to dig deep and understand what the artist is trying to do in that moment, regardless of past works. Credibly, the album explores a plethora of genres and sounds. The Nikki Lane co-written track ‘I’ll Make It Through’ is fixed in dusty gothic space and ‘Believe in Heaven’ featuring doo wop beats, dark choral echoes and robust riffs, all the while dancing between the line of strong and vulnerable.
Ruby Boots is an international representative of the potential Australian country music scene, and the overall diversity the continent has to offer. Though to refer to her as just a country artist would be doing her a disservice – her music takes from jangly punk, UK power pop, and classic rock, all mixed into one melting pot. Throughout the record, her voice remains commanding via savvy songwriting, no matter what section of the emotional spectrum her subject matter has fallen on.
Don’t Talk About It is due out February 9, 2018. To stave off the hunger until then, savour this taster of Ruby literally blowing a guy away in the ripping opening track of the album – a glammy ode to 70’s southern rock – You’re So Cruel. Check out Ruby’s upcoming tour dates below.
Ruby Boots 2018 Tour Dates
Feb 9: Record Release Party/Show – The Hideout, Chicago USA (Presented by Stolen, Bloodshot & We Manage – TICKETS)
Feb 14-17: 2018 Folk Alliance, Kansas City USA
Feb 24: Grimeys Records Instore, Austin TX USA
March 12-18: SXSW, Austin TX USA
May 4: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne AUS (TICKETS)
May 5: Leadbelly, Sydney AUS (TICKETS)
May 11: Rosemount Hotel, Perth AUS (TICKETS)