Emma Ruth Rundle is a doom-folk/ambient folk singer/songwriter and visual artist from Los Angeles. You may know her from her work with the post-punk bands Marriages and Red Sparrowes. She’s also released a few solo recordings. First was the Electric Guitar One EP in 2011. That record is thirty minutes of continuous instrumental ambient electric guitar in six chapters. It was written and recorded during the Red Sparrowes tour of Europe in 2010. In 2014, she released her first proper solo record called Some Heavy Ocean. That one is still plenty ambient, but leaning towards folk. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the first two Mazzy Star records.
On September 30 of this year, she released her sophomore album Marked for Death. As the album title suggests, there’s a lot of death imagery and other explorations on the issue of mortality. It’s dark and a bit heavy, but it’s a lovely record that demands a thorough listen. A lot of the songs are about a relationship gone wrong. The word on the street is that all of the songs are connected by that thread, and that it’s actually a narrative about the same failing (or failed) relationship. Frequent readers of the blog know that I’m a real sucker for that kind of sad gal stuff. I’m reminded a little bit of Cat Power, and also of the great Torres.
The whole record is really good, and I think it should be listened to as a whole, in one sitting, with no distractions. That said, I really like this song:
“Protection” by Emma Ruth Rundle
I like the fact that it’s low-end heavy. I love the chorus or delay or whatever on the vocals. I adore the fact that it’s relatively quiet for each of the verses, but louder in the chorus, and at the end of the chorus, it’s thunderously loud and fuzzy. I love that loud and fuzzy bit, but what I love even more is when it comes to a rapid halt and is juxtaposed right up against the quiet verse. Rundle’s voice is beautiful, soft and sweet, but also very strong. We shouldn’t lose sight of that even with all the talk of the glory of the noise and the fury brought on by the effects pedals.
Speaking of the chorus, it pretty much sums up the song, and maybe the album:
I am small but in your arms
You are colder in your heart
I am worthless in your arms
But you offer this protection no one else has given me
The heroine of the story is in what is undeniably a bad relationship, but it seems like she’s saying “I’ve been treated worse” and “being alone is worse than this crap”. There’s also two separate references to giving the guy 16 days, and separate references to letting him “choke out” and “tie down the frailest part of (her) body”. Presumably as part of a sexual fetish that she may or may not be into, but plays along anyway. Again, it’s a bit weird that the heroine doesn’t like the situation very much, but willingly goes along. For a period of exactly 16 days.