Ruthie Collins ‘Ramblin Man’ – Single Review
If you haven’t heard Ruthie Collins yet, then prepare to have your mind blown.
Plenty of artists try to set themselves apart and do something different, but hardly any of them are as successful at doing so as Ruthie. Signed to Curb’s imprint Sidewalk Records, they stopped trying to push her into country pop tropes and structures because it just wasn’t working, and instead allowed her to exist in a more organic, semi-bluegrassy setting. But post-recording they began adding drum loops and samples, and inadvertently turned her into the posterchild for country pop, or even country/EDM done right. Plenty have tried to combine the two and failed, either releasing an awful track or one that just doesn’t have any identifiably country sound in at all. But then Ruthie, with all her vintage obsession, her Ashley Monroe-esque soprano, pretty winding melodies and quirky sense of style, hit on something that pushed boundaries far more than she could ever have hoped to do had she been trying for it.
Nowhere is that more evident than on her debut single ‘Ramblin’ Man’, which just got sent to radio. It came about from a decision to record a cover of Hank Williams’ classic of the same name, but after finding the lyrics online Ruthie stepped straight into the studio and began singing entirely her own melody ad lib – they recorded that version and haven’t deviated from it since. From there they sampled Hank singing “I love you baby” as part of the chorus, and that pulled together with Ruthie’s incredibly fascinating, female-perspective version of the rest of the song, makes for a crazy country/club mash-up that allows time and space for both styles to exist. That’s the key here; she doesn’t seem to prefer either one, but lets them each do their thing without it sounding forced.
Her self-titled EP includes five other tracks that make her even more fascinating as an artist, but ‘Ramblin’ Man’ is such a brilliant choice to go with because of its familiarity with listeners, its nod to real traditional country but also its fast-tracked shift into the 21st century. This is far more boundary-pushing and fresh than almost any of the bros who think they’re being revolutionary, and there’s little sweet Ruthie humbly doing her thing and not shouting about it to try and draw attention to her own apparent commercial viability. She’s just getting on with it; I like that about her.
The track has already been getting decent spins on SiriusXM’s The Highway, and no doubt it will pick up support on terrestrial radio too. Let’s just hope the majority of country radio listeners “get her”, and allow her to take them on a ride, even if she is a woman. Because she’s one of the most exciting new artists I’ve heard in a long time.