Ruby Amanfu - Standing Still_cover

To fans of Jack White, the name Ruby Amanfu will ring an immediate bell. Two years ago, Amanfu joined White on the stage at the 2013 Grammy Awards, where the two completely crashed a live performance of their duet “Love Interrupted.”

For everyone else, allow Ruby Amanfu to introduce herself.

Amanfu, who was born in Ghana, was brought up in Nashville, Tennessee, and immediately found herself immersed in the music-driven culture that embodies the state capitol. Over the last few years, the gorgeous singer has been mostly an associated act, serving as part of a duo (Sam & Ruby) in 2009 and collaborating with the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Norah Jones, Patti LaBelle, and even Hozier.

But in 2015, Ruby Amanfu decided to step out on her own. Standing Still, the songbird’s debut album, lands in stores and online retailers, the product of a crowd-funding campaign and a five-day recording session that Amanfu spent with a six-piece band in a Tennessee cabin alongside her producer, Mark Howard. NPR First Listen got the first crack at breaking Ruby’s new LP, but the album is now available to stream in full, by way of Spotify.

It’s tempting to relegate Ruby’s sound to country, being that she hails from the heart of country music; and guitars do set a tone for a majority of Standing Still’s ten tracks. “Street Lights,” Standing Still’s lead single, is itself a classic country lullaby. But to put Ruby in a “country music” box, is to completely ignore how multifaceted Amanfu’s voice is. Ruby evokes the blues, for example, on the haunting and heartbreaking “Shadow on the Wall.” She adds tribal notes and soul to a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet,” quieting her voice to just above a whisper as though letting listeners in on a secret on the hook. And African-inspired drums alongside Ruby’s voice make “Where You Going” worth two-stepping to.

Per the singer’s Soundcloud, Standing Still was recorded in its entirety live, Amanfu being assisted solely by the aforementioned band and “without bells, whistles, or ProTools.” That “live” feel makes all the difference, as it gives the album an almost intimate concert feel. You aren’t the only one in the room listening, but Ruby makes you feel like you are. For those seeking an alternative to the summer turn up anthems, or something that might help them, err, “stand still” when the high has come down, rest assured that Ruby Amanfu’s debut provides that and more. It’s just a glimpse into a star in the making.

Stream Ruby Amanfu’s Standing Still LP down below. Amanfu’s debut LP is currently available now on iTunes.

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