I had ME TV (an Austin cable station devoted to music) on during South by Southwest this year, just playing in the background as I was surfing the Internet or something in the living room. Halfway through some song, I realized that I was listening to something very good. I finished the song, then rewound it and dragged housemate Mike into the room and made him watch it, too.
What caught my ear was “What Do I Do Now,” by Sam & Ruby. Had this been written in the 1940s, it might have become a jazz standard. Ruby pours on a sultry vocal on the first verse that grabs the listener immediately. They both sing on the chorus, and their voices are beautiful together.
Sam is from Green Bay and Ruby was born in Ghana. They currently reside in Nashville. Ruby put out a couple of records overseas. That’s about all I know about them.
I bought their EP and gave it several listens. They’re still a little rough around the edges–“Won’t Let You Go” is slight, and “More” has a lovely melody crippled by appallingly bad lyrics–but the good stuff is really good.
Last week they announced that their first album will be coming out this fall. I’m both excited and nervous. If they’ve found the right producer to guide their best instincts and curtail their bad ones, they could be huge. I’ll be buying it as soon as it’s released, and I’ll be crushed if it isn’t very good. Judging by the new material they’ve put up on their MySpace page, though, I think that’s unlikely.
Below I’ve pasted “Heaven’s My Home,” as it’s the only video I could find. It’s a good song, but not what I’d pick to show them off. You’d be better off going to their MySpace page, which, at this moment, will start playing “What Do I Do Now” immediately. Then listen to “The Suitcase Song” and “The Here and the Now.”
Bonus for my fellow cheeseheads: Sam Brooker singing our National Anthem before last year’s Packers-Seahawks playoff game (awesome comeback). And for my Louisiana people, the two of them doing the same number at a Saints game (although some guy named Dan Dyer has lead vocal).