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Music Review: John Scarpulla – Blue Ruin

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Adam Duritz and Glen Phillips have both marveled to me about what a good time it is for indie music and how good the internet is for musicians.  They're both right.  Tom Petty said much the same thing even as far back as 1999 when Napster was on the outlaw fringe and iTunes wasn't even thought of.  The gates that once stood between talented musicians and their dreams were crumbling, and that avalanche continues today.

I still like a lot of major label artists, but more and more I'm convinced the best of what music has to offer is happening off the beaten path.  Last week's case in point was The Bittersweets' brilliant new album.  This week, it's New York-based singer/songwriter John Scarpulla and his new album Blue Ruin.

The songs on Blue Ruin have roots in the blues but there are colors and landscapes in these songs, revealing a wider angle view of the world.  They are rootsy, rustic, and filled with so many elements of classic Americana music.  The compositions are spare, built around Scarpulla's acoustic guitar.  There are no drums here, just guitar, bass, and an occasional fiddle (A shoutout of sorts is required as BC Magazine's own Jon Sobel provides some of the electric and fretless bass heard on this record).

I'm not a particularly visual thinker but I see these songs when I listen to them, or at least have images float through my mind.  Blue Ruin sounds like a partly cloudy day, or a partly sunny day.  You can still feel warmth from the sun, but might not be able to see it in all its glory.  There's something very comfortable and comforting in these songs.  They are also versatile. 

These songs would be great company in the morning, sipping coffee on the front porch as the sun comes up.  They'd also be great in a dark coffeehouse.  Beyond that singer/songwriter vibe, these songs would also go nice with something a little harder than coffee on a lonesome Saturday night.  This isn't a record for beer drinking and hell raising, but it could be a soundtrack for one of those quiet, contemplative, dark nights of the soul.

One song from the album, "Venus Back to Mars," is available for download through Amazon's MP3 store.  The full-length CD can be purchased through CD Baby.

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