Elin Ruth

“Bang” – Elin Ruth

So even as I have, for the sake of a pithy heading, described “Bang” as “assured, retro-y soulful pop,” let me quickly note that this is not as easy to do as it probably sounds. First you need a good song (difficult to come by!); then you also need all the right touches. I hear an impressive supply of them here: the background “oo-oohs,” the horn charts, the prickly guitar strum, that little wooden-sounding percussion flourish (first heard at 0:24), and best of all those three extra beats in the first measure of the chorus. I love songs that know how to do that kind of thing.

And—let us not forget—you need an able singer. Elin Ruth starts out kind of speak-y and casual. She is holding back. Compare the end of the first lyrical line (“until we’re dead,” at 0:19) to the end of the second (“around your wing,” 0:34). She holds her note maybe a half second longer, but it’s a delicious little half second. Here is a singer with a big voice, but it’s not “X Factor” showy. It actually has an unexpected grit to it (listen to how she sings “There’s nothing I can do about it” at 0:50), but even that she refuses to flaunt. The big world out there goes nuts for the flamboyant belters but in the small world of Fingertips, I love best the singers who might cut loose but don’t. The artistry is in the restraint.

Elin Ruth began recording, in 2003, as Elin Ruth Sigvardsson. She just released her fifth album in her native Sweden, but in 2010 fell in love with a New Yorker and last year they were married. She now lives in Queens, and is readying her first album to be released in the United States, which will be called simply Elin Ruth. It’s slated for release in January on her own label, Divers Avenue Music. In the meantime, she has put together a four-song EP for the U.S., featuring “Bang” as the title track. She is now offering it as a free download via her Facebook page. All songs on the EP were originally featured on her previous Swedish albums, “Bang” coming from her 2009 album Cookatoo Friends.