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Acclaimed U.K. harpist Ruby Paul releases '70s-styled album of coffeehouse jazz and folk


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Ruby Paul is a harpist with an angel's voice.

Based in Yorkshire, England, Paul is a classically trained professional harpist but her latest album, Forbidden Fruit, is firmly planted in another genre. Paul's tender vocal delivery, often compared to that of the late Karen Carpenter, is perfectly suited for the album's soothing blend of coffeehouse jazz and acoustic folk. On Leon Russell's “This Masquerade," Paul doesn't attempt to cop George Benson's soulful rendition, possibly the most well-known version of the track; instead, she sings it with a plaintive yearning, echoing the rainy-day atmospherics of the acoustic guitars. It's quite lovely, a vivid reflection of Paul's good taste and classy approach to music.

Paul was recently chosen by Brides magazine as Recommended Harpist for Weddings, but ironically Forbidden Fruit might be her most impressive calling card to singles getting hitched. There is romance in the air, from the unrequited passion of “You've Stolen My Heart" to the charming adolescent infatuation of “Shaking like a Leaf."

According to Paul, Forbidden Fruit was inspired by music from the '70s, which is not only evident in her choice of covers but in the unplugged, stripped-down arrangements as well, recalling singer/songwriter efforts from the period. The album is very organic, like a concept album of the '70s," Paul explained. “The album grew from the registers of my voice and the genre of Bacharach/Carpenters. The more I thought about the sound and feel of the album, the more it shaped my performance and choice of material."

For Paul, playing music has been a lifelong passion, taking root inside of her in her preteen years. “I had a great deal of encouragement from my school music teacher from the age of 12," Paul recalled. “I started to play the viola at this time and made rapid progress. He gave me a lot of time and also created opportunities for me to play for local amateur productions and to transpose scores and write out parts."

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