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RUARRI JOSEPH Shoulder To The Wheel (2010)

Ruarri Joseph Ruarri Joseph may not be a name you're immediately familiar with, but a little research shows that the man's had two critically acclaimed and very well received albums out - his 2007 debut Tales Of Grime and Grit, and the follow-up, Both Sides Of The Coin (2009).

And it's been an eventful and often painful journey that's led him to this point in his career. Relocated to New Zealand by his mother, a practising witch at an early age and brought up on a farm in the outback, he headed back to England as a teenager in search of fame and fortune.

Married and a father himself as a teenager, and scraping a living as a nurse for the elderly and mentally and ill, Ruarri found solace in Tom Waits records and gigging in a jazz cabaret band. One thing, as they say, led to another and he signed a major label solo deal.

His debut album, support slots to the likes of David Gray, Seth Lakeman and Paolo Nutini followed and quickly disillusioned by the industry pressures he quit his contract. He went back to writing what he wanted to, found an independent label and got back on track. Temporarily.

His son underwent brain surgery and Shoulder To The Wheel has been shaped by his, thankful, recovery. It's an album shaped by hope, faith and moments of despair. With warm, Clapton style vocals, it's an album more accessible than some of his peers, and one that will get under your skin and have you reaching for the repeat button. Repeatedly.

Recommended for existing fans, and those who favour male singer songwriters who walk [just] the wrong side of the mainstream line.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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