MIKE + RUTHY – THE NYC E.P
2012 – Humble Abode Music
Partners in life as well as the late and much lamented by many, early 21stcentury band ‘The
Mammals,’ Mike Merenda and Ruthy Ungar are now a duo that is three albums, plus this brand new seven track e.p, into a second career that has at least as much quality as their former one. Had I actually heard it at the time, their previous album, 2010s, ‘Million to One’ could well have made my top twenty albums of that year, so is well worth investigating, as are it’s two predecessors!
This excellent e.p. contains six tremendous songs plus a short thirty second banjo/bass instrumental break that shows off Mike Merenda’s tremendously speedy banjo playing to full effect. Mike himself plays guitar, banjo, harmonica and farfisa as well as vocals on these songs whilst Ruthy plays guitar, resophonic uke, fiddle and some of the most exquisitely expressive vocals you
will hear in the roots music field.
Three of the songs are written by Mike, one by Ruthy, one by Lillian Green and one of the most beautiful songs you will hear, certainly this year, that was originally written by the great Woody
Guthrie, but with some additional music added by Mike and Ruthy. This is the extraordinary My New York City, with it’s perfectly atmospheric steel guitar, played by Charlie Rose, Ruthy’s gorgeous vocals never having sounded better and Mike’s harmonies giving full rein to the haunting element of this lovely song. Had they tried to emulate this perfectly weighted, arranged and performed tale they would have to have failed, but fortunately they chose to change tack on the remainder of the songs ensuring that anyone hearing this e.p will wish it had been a full album, such is the quality and diversity. Lillian Green’s Romance in the dark has a late night jazzy bluesy feel with the sparse instrumentation and Ruthy’s expressive, atmospheric vocals being perfectly suited to the genre and in all probability any other genre you can think of! Mike’s On my way home has a‘front porch’ feel
as does the duet Toast my memory. The Ruthy penned Oh Mama, again has a bluesy feel with some nice sax playing by Chris Miller and the final song Raise your glasses high has a traditional country feel, with atmospheric fiddle, on an excellent duet by this talented duo.
It’s always difficult to judge an e.p. but on the evidence of what is contained on this disc and their previous work, had it been a full album it would probably have been awarded an extra star.
Diversity can often be a double edged sword, with many albums just appearing to lack direction, but Mike and Ruthy have the talent to keep their diversity of styles and still give a nice flow to their recordings.
Previous post Mammals releases by ‘Mike & Ruthy’
2010 – Million to one
2009 – Waltz of the Chickadee
2008 – The Honeymoon agenda