Emma Ruth Rundle
Emma Ruth Rundle at Gosforth Civic Centre (supported by Jo Quail)
Starting with a humble hello, California born Emma Ruth Rundle began her show last Saturday at Gosforth Civic Theatre by letting her music speak for itself, and ‘Living With The Black Dog’ from her 2014 debut album ‘Some Heavy Ocean’ was the perfect start to the conversation. Moving on to perform her latest 2021 album ‘Engine of Hell’, it felt as though, just as she removed her jacket and overshirt between songs due to the heatwave, joking about England’s heat, she was also slowly baring all the layers of her soul, until at the end, when playing ‘Blooms of Oblivion’ and ‘Return’ the audience felt as though we had digested a part of it ; the sign of a true musician.
There were a few songs from the album that truly resonated with me. ‘Body’ a song dedicated to her grandmother, her primary caregiver, was a love letter of what it feels like to have loved and lost to the sound of heartbreakingly beautiful piano instrumentals. ‘Dancing Man’ was a song inspired by happy memories existing as snow globes, ready to be shaken, that remind us that we can and will feel like that again. Rundle constantly kept the audience guessing, ‘ This song has a lot of alternative meanings, but I will not reveal any of them’, she joked before performing ‘Razor’s Edge’. Naked, unapologetic, honesty is something key to her charm. Undercurrents of relief could be felt running through the audiences laughs when she frankly spoke about her mental health, like at the beginning of ‘Body’ when she joked ‘this key doesn’t want to work, but neither do I sometimes’. I was so in awe of Rundle’s art to questioning herself. All she needed was a single spotlight, a piano, and a guitar, and it felt like she was sat opposite herself, at some points the diversity of her voice’s tones and volumes felt like there were even several parts of herself singing to one other, fighting to find the truth.
Supporting her was someone Rundle said along with oatmeal, is very high up on her ‘gratitude list’, virtuoso cellist Jo Quail and it was a delight to see them play ‘Citadel’ together at the end of the show. It feels so much with contemporary music that creatives are scared to sit in darkness, instead there is such a pressure to run away from it, to motivate, to uplift, to enlighten. But not Rundle, she stops running, she pulls out a chair and sits with it, staring it right in the eye and asking it who it is - and for that we can only thank her.