Ruth Minnikin's smooth, laidback voice has always been the highlight of any project she's ever been involved with, from her high school band briefly signed to a now-defunct shingle of EMI Booming Airplanes, to Halifax alt-country faves the Guthries, and as a current member of the breathtaking Heavy Blinkers. On her first solo LP, released a year after her self-titled EP, she easily emerges from reliable ensemble player to full-fledged leader. Recorded live off the floor over one summer weekend, Marooned and Blue sounds as good as any studio project. A stellar backing band-comprised of Rose Cousins, Anna Plaskett and ex-Guthries, plus a capable engineer in Heavy Blinker Andrew Watt provide the sure-footed Minnikin with solid ground to launch herself from. Varying in scope and style from breezy ballads about bar fights ("Behind Bars"), jaunty odes to touring ("It's Not Work") and folk sing-alongs (rollicking closer "My Way With Words"), Minnikin proves her prowess as a songwriter and, despite her lack of anguished wails or neck-stretching bridges, a steady, always compelling vocalist.
Why record this way? You get the live sound. I think I like it so much because it is such an experience everybody's there, you can see everybody, they're going at the exact same moment. It seems more real to me, not so produced.
Do songs come easily to you? I'm always writing. I go through stages, really. I write a lot at one point and then I don't. I usually set aside months where I'm planning what's my plan of action? sort of thing. And then there's months where I'm sitting around, trying to be creative. And there's other times where both of it's happening at once because you're over-stimulated or there's a lack of sleep and you're inspired. And you gotta take those chances when they come too.
How hard is it to live as a musician in Halifax? It's tough going sometimes, but it's definitely not work. I feel grateful for the people I get to meet, the people I get to play with. Everybody that I surround myself with is so my speed and talented. I think the Maritimes as a whole is the most vibrant place in this country. It feeds me. (Independent)