EP REVIEW: Ruth Toynton – ‘Retrograde’


I know very little about Ruth beyond the facts that she’s a Hull based singer and writer who’s in love with Soul, Jazz and Blues. One thing I do know is that the music she makes is wonderful; and that’s the important thing.

What she does is either modern jazzy HipHop soul with a hefty dose of old style jazz or old style jazz with a hefty dose of jazzy HipHop soul; you basically pays yer money and takes your choice.

Opening track ‘In the strange.’ takes a modern take on jazzy soul. There’s what we might describe as ‘the usual jazz instrumentation’ but it’s put together differently. It’s kind of trip-hop like; sounds dart out at you, sounds don’t quite sit where you’d expect them to. It’s beautiful and takes you on a journey. But over this is Ruth’s voice. Her voice is pure, striking, comes with the odd compelling twist, and is all about emotion.

On ‘Is this love?’ what hits you is the bittersweet in the words and in her voice. And this accompanied by the smoothest sparse music. But this is a track that is very much more than the sum of its parts, it has a quiet power.

‘Glowing in the dark’ flits vocally between being HipHop-y and jazz. While musically it sits in the classic jazz with stabs of the new. It’s odd in a very good way; the sounds and vocal don’t seem to fit but they do. I guess you could describe it as being somewhere in the Nu-Soul area, if you had to. I’m not entirely sure.

Final track ‘High’ does jazzy soul to the max. It’s retro but also very much of now. Musically wonderful piano drifts through the track, backing vocals like caramel caress your soul, and a gorgeous trumpet sings to your heart. It is beautiful.

This EP is so incredibly accomplished. The vocals, the music, are all so perfect technically. But the thing is that that isn’t the important thing. This is music with heart and soul. It’s about emotion and mood. It’s about the writing and arrangement but more importantly the way the songs are sung and the music played. Ruth can not only write but has a voice you could fall in love with. These are beautiful songs played and sung beautifully.

Previous articleEP REVIEW: The Battery Farm – ‘Dirty Den’s March of Suffering’
Next articleALBUM REVIEW: Fold – ‘Aphelion: a tribute to Lorraine Hansberry’
Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.