Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet


Ain't No Whiskey


Nick's Picks: 01 Drive In The Rain; 04 No One Said Nothin' 'Bout Dancin'; 09 Wake Me In The Morning

FCC ALERT: "pure as Klamath Falls"

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Melissa RuthAin't No Whiskey :

Melissa Ruth is a classically trained musician with real-world, righteous babe-like sensibilities and songwriting prowess – despite her surroundings. (She and bandmate/hubby, Johnny Leal are both public school music teachers). Her songwriting and performing from the outset (on this, her second studio album) are eerily reminiscent of a “westernized” Ani DeFranco, with a nihilistic perspective (“Drive In The Rain”). The second song on this playlist sets the tone with a a he-done-me-wrong-so-I'm-drinkin'-myself-to-death-song with a “doo-wop twangy” sense of humor (“Ain't No Whiskey”). The third cut (“Write Me A Love Song”) kicks up the tempo a notch, while retaining that same sense of humor – the pace being the humorous point here (a bluegrass rythym). I just had to listen on, finding that every song on this release is as good as the previous one. As I menitioned in a previous review, it is refreshing to listen to a release where the artist actually took time to put out honest, well-written and heartfelt music This whole effort is minimalist from a singing and instrumental perspective; however, it makes the output no less melodious nor less meaningful – to the contrary, this artist (and company) can expect a very bright future ahead. And remember, you heard it here first. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick


Melissa Ruth and her husband, guitarist Johnny Leal, had been tracking an acoustic follow-up to 2008's Underwater and Other Places for a year when Melissa stumbled upon a 1958 Guild electric guitar at a local music store. Inspired by the guitar and informed by the couple's old jazz and blues collection, Ruth began writing. Once she had penned what turned out to be her title track, Ruth says that a theme for a new record began to emerge. "All of the songs on the album are about travel or transition, almosts and maybes. Everyone is looking for something: love, acceptance, peace, happiness. The idea behind Ain't No Whiskey is that there are no quick fixes for feelings of longing and desire."

Ain't No Whiskey is the second release on Ruth's own label, Both Ears Records. The first release was 2008's Underwater and Other Places, produced by Hank Alrich of Armadillo Music Productions in Austin, TX. Dubbed homegrown folk-sass, the songs on the album were recorded live and underwent minimal studio production. Additionally, most of the songs on Underwater and Other Places were written by the time Melissa was 21. The record served to showcase the undeniable potential of the young artist.

Canadian-born Melissa Ruth was raised in rural British Columbia on a balanced diet of borscht and Bob Dylan. Melissa and Johnny met in Northern California where they were both studying music. The pair now live in Eugene, Oregon where they are public school music teachers. Jimmy is a fish biologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon. The trio plan to continue to tour in support of Ain't No Whiskey.

The Musicians:

・ Melissa Ruth – songwriter, vocals, rhythm guitar

・ Jimmy Leal – drums

・ Johnny Leal – Lead, Slide, rhythm, bass guitar

・ Leah, Talon Hansel – backing vocals

The Songs:

1. Drive In The Rain

2. Ain't No Whiskey

4. No One Said Nothin' 'Bout Dancin'

5. Ain' Found It Yet

6. Willig To Fall

7. Cinco de Mayo

8. Dusty Boxcar

9. Wake Me In The Morning

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.