The past 12 months have been manic in the recently established solo career of Ruth Lyon, lead singer and co-founder of the popular folk rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers. Last July, by BBC invitation, she performed in front of 40,000 festival goers at the prestigious Latitude camping event in Suffolk, England. Autumn 2021 saw the release of Ruth’s highly acclaimed debut EP, Nothing’s Perfect, and this March, she made an impressive American debut at the SXSW Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas.
The next few months bring further tours, a hectic recording schedule, and a new body of work comprising additional original songs. Any spare time is devoted to charity work, with wheelchair user Ruth an advocate for the disabled community and a diversity and inclusion activist, specifically in relation to improving accessibility in live music, and a spokesperson and panelist across three continents.
A key inspiration for “Trouble” was when Ruth spoke on a panel in Austin, Texas and performed at a showcase with fellow disabled artists Eliza Hull and Lachi, from Australia and the US respectively. Here, she says she heard brand new perspectives on community and accessibility, and was deeply moved to witness the performances from her fellow artists which spoke to their own experiences. “It was almost like a spiritual thing for me,” she says. “I came back and realized this career is so much bigger than myself. I think I have a duty to push this as far as I can and to be as honest as I can.” The key themes that Ruth is pursuing in her current work are the power in fragility and the beauty in imperfection.
Produced and mixed by John Parish
Engineered by Oliver Baldwin at J&J Studio Bristol
Mastered by Jason Mitchell at LOUD Mastering
The somber, minimalist instrumental introduction sets the tone perfectly for Lyon’s high impact opening words, I woke up wondering when I’m going to die/ Window shopping everything feels like a lie. “This is a reaction against this idea of perfection that society has us believe is the goal, when actually it’s a shortcut to death,” explains Ruth. “I’ve never been able to tread the path of least resistance, but nor would I want to. I am hard work, I am difficult, I don’t want to be boxed up with a neat little bow with my labels printed on it. I am trouble and I love it.”
The rest of the first verse introduces Tommy Evans’ precise funky percussion which immediately changes the vibe to Lyon’s almost carefree admission of never knowing what she is doing and it’s all her own doing anyway. The infectious and jaunty chorus takes the listener into the realm of alt-pop before returning to the subject of Ruth’s reputation for ‘trouble’ and someone who isn’t perceived to be likely to go very far. The slower change of pace here emphasizes the transition of mood. Ruth’s versatile vocal delivery and intonation are breathtaking as she stretches out and holds the longer notes on the vowels as only great singers can, her voice soaring high above the gloriously arranged backing music.
A sharp analogy is made between shaving legs despite the cold, and cursing a direct debit to Vogue. This clever lyricism confirms a creative, somewhat mischievous and very individual talent with the confidence, power and wit to express feelings with dramatic effect. The clarity and depth of the sound production, engineering and mastering do full justice to this exquisite performance and will leave the listener waiting eagerly for more.
Ruth Lyon plays Rhodes piano, clarinet, violin and electronics, Holy Moly’s drummer Tommy Evans also plays electric bass, with John Parish on keyboards and backing vocals from Joseph James and James Cameron.
“Trouble” is available on Spotify from Wednesday, August 31st.