Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ruth Blake presents her new single ‘Brave Ships’, inspired by the warm, rich tones and strong rhythmic grooves of the 1970s. The accompanying video was filmed by Paul Blakemore on Sand Bay.
The b-side for this release is titled ‘I Am’. A reflection of her soul, these compositions are deep and spacious. Richly bittersweet, this is overflowing with love, creativity and reverance. Both tracks were mastered by Shawn Joseph (Portishead, Jonny Greenwood, PJ Harvey, Bat for Lashes, Peter Green).
Originally from the Midlands, Blake now resides in the mists and vales of Somerset, where she creates multi-faceted folk music that stirs the soul, rich with symbol and storytelling. ‘Using ‘music as medicine’, this is poignant, lyrical, poetic and even sacred.
‘Brave Ships’ was birthed in the autumn of 2019 at the home of Ashley Jenkins, a severely disabled swimmer and radio host who regularly inspires his fans to ‘never give up on their dreams’. “He’s a beloved friend and I’m sure it is no coincidence that Brave Ships entered the world through the portal of his home,” says Ruth Blake.
“It was just after the peak of Extinction Rebellion activity, a few months before the Covid pandemic struck. I felt deep love of the earth and a desire to see a paradigm shift in the way we relate to the natural world and indeed the world in general. I was riding difficult inner conflicts, asking myself what I felt was being asked of me as we head into the stormy waters of this unique time in human history. It was then that I re-read an exquisite piece of writing entitled ‘Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times’ by one of my all-time favourite authors – Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who noted that a “soul on deck shines like gold in dark times”. The letter struck me anew, rich with symbolic beacons of hopes set amongst the paradoxes of life, reassuring us heartily that we are seaworthy vessels no matter how ragged our flags have become.”
While also self-taught, Blake received an unusual musical education from the eccentric and pioneering Young Steinway Artist, composer, pianist and multi-instrumentalist, Edward Chilvers, who persistently encouraged her to believe in herself and develop her gift for music. “Each song is a bit like untangling a complicated knot – the process is utterly obsessive, and somehow inevitable,” says Blake.
In 2015, Blake crowdfunded and released her own debut album of subtle yet poignant folk music – ‘Lullabies for Grown-Ups’, followed by her colourful second studio album ‘Creation’ in 2018. Lyrically profound and musically sophisticated, Ruth’s music is born out of her own passion for self-knowledge and the deeper truths of existence.
A member of the Music as Medicine collective and Brightsky Community, she has performed at various festivals. She has recorded at Real World Studios with the enigmatic James Frost, and has been collaborating with Manchester dark-funk 8-piece ensemble Caulbearers, including for their 2020 single ‘Over Comes a Cloud’.
A natural progression, Blake collaborated with Damien Mahoney, the driving force behind Caulbearers, who produced and engineered it at his attic studio in Old Trafford. With a creative output ranging from funk, soul and reggae to acid house and Balearic dub, he has collaborated with John Ellis (Cinematic Orchestra, The Breath), Rob Turner (GoGo Penguin), Julie Gordon (Happy Mondays) and producer Seadna Mcphail (Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Jah Wobble, Everything Everything). He has also remixed RnB artist Faith Evans for EMI.
Written by Ruth Blake
Recorded, Produced & Mixed by Damien Mahoney in his attic studio ‘Padded Cell’ in Old Trafford, Manchester
Mastered by Shawn Joseph (Portishead, Jonny Greenwood, PJ Harvey, Bat for Lashes, Peter Green)
All Vocals and acoustic guitar – Ruth Blake
Drums – Rob Turner (Gogo Penguin)
Fretless bass – Dave Tompkins (Johnny Dangerously, Mike Hope’s Jazzmahoot, Mojito)
Cello, viola, violin – Alan Keary (Shunya)
Guitar, Harmonium and piano – Pete Barrett (Colourfield, John Cooper Clark & Pauline Murray)
Ruth Blake photos by Paul Blakemore, except BnW portrait by Vanity Studios
Damien Mahoney & Ruth Black photo by Jan Schoof
“Destined for greater things in the future… Somerset based Ruth Blake … proved the pick of the bunch, channeling the spirit of Joni Mitchell” ~ Drowned in Sound
“With its delicate harmonies, Ruth Blake’s music seems to emanate from a waking dream… made of shades of love, sweetness and strength” ~ David Mboussou, Film Director
“Some of the most beautiful music I have heard in a long time” ~ John Lime, Glastonbury FM
“Visionary works that defy categorisation or label” ~ Jennifer Leach, Outrider Anthems
“A true wonder. Her voice bathes over me as if I have soaked myself in a healing sound-shower” ~ Steve Lee, Gfm