Personnel: Alison Ruble (vocals); John McLean (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Jill Kaeding (cello); Jim Gailloreto (alto flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Karl Montzka (Hammond b-3 organ); Larry Kohut (acoustic bass, Chapman stick); Jim Widlowski (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Vijay Tellis-Nayak.
Recording information: Transient Sound Studios, Chicago, IL (02/2010); Victorian Recording, Barrington, IL (02/2010); Transient Sound Studios, Chicago, IL (05/2009); Victorian Recording, Barrington, IL (05/2009).
Photographer: Joshua Albanese.
Arranger: John McLean.
Vocalist Alison Ruble's second CD for Origin is much like her first effort, a mix of standards and pop with embellishments of folk and rock, with arrangements again by guitarist John McLean. Gifted with a warm alto voice, Ruble starts off with an intriguing take of "The Summer Knows" (remembered by many as Michel Legrand's haunting theme written for the early-'70s film Summer of '42) that has a rich backdrop of acoustic guitar, alto flute, arco cello, and bass caressing her warm vocals. Most arrangers don't put a lot of thought into the scoring of the standard "Let's Fall in Love," yet McLean's brilliant chart incorporates an infectious vamp and subtle use of the strings and Jim Gailloreto's soprano sax to back Ruble's playful vocal. Though written by Bobby Troup, "Route 66" is readily identified with the late jazz pianist/vocalist Nat King Cole. Ruble's contemporary version is well out of jazz territory and heads into soft rock, though it retains a high energy level. The newer songs from country, pop, rock, and blues are a bit uneven. Emmylou Harris is a country/rock artist who has thoroughly tested her own musical boundaries, so it's logical that Ruble would explore her own songs. Organ and acoustic guitar are prominent in Ruble's contemporary interpretation of Harris' "Here I Am." Less interesting are the country-flavored setting of King Crimson's "Matte Kudasai" (hampered by both its weak melody and forgettable lyrics) and the funky yet bland take of Bonnie Raitt's "Tangled and Dark." While this is a generally enjoyable CD by Alison Ruble, it isn't quite as strong as her debut release This Is a Bird. ~ Ken Dryden