This one is pure indulgence. Sit back, get comfortable, and enjoy Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool. Ruby is the moniker adopted by vocalist Lesley Rankine (of grrl-power Silverfish fame) and producer Mark Walk (Pigface, Skinny Puppy). The duo offers pop vocals with a twist: steady insistence on the groove. Rather than sticking to a certain style, Ruby summons the total packagefrom straight-up rock to disco/lounge, from tricky funk to Latin grooves. Rankine, whose voice is seductively smooth, spans the range from throaty swing to crisp vocal percussion. Her approach is like rap soaked in honey: the chant and the saunter issue forth wrapped up in layers of twist and twirl. (Did someone say trip hop?)
The indulgence part comes from Ruby's self-conscious obsession with the hook. Pop needs its standard bearers, especially when it thumbs its nose at so-called "art." And Ruby does not fall short at all in the craft department. It's the kind of music one doesn't have to suffer to enjoyand I'll admit I enjoy the other kind, too. If you take a moment to absorb the lyrics, you'll discover some strikingly intense, honest, and visceral poetics. Ruby's words on the subject, from "Lamplight":
"If I bear my fruit, and invite the world to see If I bear my fruit, would you tear it from my tree..."
In this reviewer's opinion, Short-Staffed at the Gene Pool is ripe for the picking.
I love jazz because it swings.
I was first exposed to jazz in Houston.
I met Joe LoCascio and Bob Henschen.
The best show I ever attended was Pat Martino.
The first jazz record I bought was Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
My advice to new listeners is to relax on 2 and 4 beats.