In school I learned that to be taken more seriously you should always preface yourself by citing your bias. I don’t want to lead any of you astray, so I will say up front that I’ve been a huge fan of Chris DeGarmo’s work since Queensrÿche. His band Spys4Darwin with members of Alice In Chains; his collaboration with Dredg, which even led to several songs in the independent film Expiration Date; as well as his work with Matt Messina and the inspiring Amy Ogmundson have all held special places in my heart. So when I heard that he and his daughter, Rylie, were writing together, I was ecstatic! A live video of the duo surfaced several years ago and the songs were, quite simply, exciting. But that video came and went without any signal of things to come. To my surprise and pleasure, the pair emerged quite suddenly a few weeks ago with an EP. I invite you to join me as we talk about the self-titled release and its creators, The Rue.
The Rue EP is a mostly acoustic journey. Rylie’s vocals are comforting and cradled by the embrace of her father’s tasteful guitar playing. Each song is performed so intimately, you get the feeling her voice is right up to your ear. We’re swept away in a sea of romance, but maybe not the kind you usually hear about. Far from words about physical love, the majority of these tracks touch upon love and how we deal with it in our minds. The games we play, the distances we create, even when none truly exist, and the uneasiness that we bring to our relationships are all covered within. The conviction that shines through in Rylie’s voice carries the music up and away, giving you the feeling that she’s a truly old soul. And there is really no one that could hold this together finer than Chris, whose beautiful phrasing and unique chord voicings make him an indispensable part of this duo. We’re never treated to any guitar solos, though a swelling bridge sneaks into the slightly electrified “Sweet Love,” teasing our senses while allowing Rylie’s singing to capture us without competition.
This six-song EP has been a welcome friend to me these last few weeks. There is a soothing that it brings, with just a kick of sass, and more romanticism than I’ve heard in quite a while. Perhaps my favorite tune of the bunch is the closer, “Sap,” which is more storytelling than anything else found here. It presents an air of hope and human togetherness that struck a chord with me from the moment I had heard it. I know this is not the return to music for Chris DeGarmo that many are expecting, but I would urge you to open your ears and your mind and give it a listen. I believe you’ll enjoy yourself more than you could imagine. The Rue, and their EP, have offered a brief respite from daily life with music that will surely elicit childlike wonder within you if you’re prepared to lower your defenses. I, for one, have happily shed my calloused skin and am ready for more.