Married couples have been peppered throughout modern musical history. Famously, Jay-Z & Beyoncé. Kurt & Courtney. Johnny & June are obvious examples. More infamously, Ike & Tina, George & Tammy and Chad & Avril come to mind. Sorry about forcing that last one back into your mind. Sometimes the pairing produces something greater than scandal and supposition. Sometimes it produces glorious artwork.
One lesser known but mighty brace who fall into the latter category are singer/songwriters, Emma Ruth Rundle and Evan Patterson. The first half has fronted Marriages, Red Sparowes, and her eponymous band. The second, Young Widows and currently, Jaye Jayle. Apart, both make some of the most unique and interesting music heard today. They both defy genre, even aggressively shrug the notion aside. They’re fierce musicians who redefine their instruments, innovatively playing with both beauty and fury in melodious and angular styles. Together, they complement each other in subtle and overt ways. To Rundle’s powerful crystalline voice and reverb-washed picked guitar, Patterson offers support with growled baritone and stabbing chords. This ideal has continued to their current tour, where ERR is showcasing tracks from her stunning new album, On Dark Horses, while Patterson not only opens the show in Jaye Jayle (playing much from their recent mind-warping release, No Trail and Other Unholy Paths), but acts as her second guitarist (along with bassist, Todd Cook, who plays in both).
Not resigned to create a mood with music alone, Jaye Jayle began by having all lights turned off apart from lamps each member clipped to their stands. Patterson then announced themselves by counting in with WE. ARE. JAYE. JAYLE. As Soon As Night crashed in as the opening song. The band proceeded to tear through an all-too short set. As stated previously, it’s difficult to even attempt to classify what Jaye Jayle plays. Each song of their latest album, No Trail and Other Unholy Paths, drags the listener through a variety of landscapes – few of which have been created for comfort. However, I found myself eyes closed, as I let the music swirl me around into a dusty trance. Patterson and crew form layers of sonic strata to create music that’s raw and percussive yet cinematic and darkly dreamy. They achieve this with drone and melody from Patterson’s guitar and synth to drummer Neil Argabright’s tribal drums and Todd Cook’s steady and bulldozing bass to multi-instrumentalist, Corey Smith adding textures on guitar and keys and thunder on his floor tom.
After a pause, Emma Ruth Rundle made way to the stage, bringing drummer, Dylan Nadon. Cook and Patterson remained on bass and guitar. ERR opened her set with a trio of On Dark Horse tracks, Dead Set Eyes, Fever Dreams and Apathy on the Indiana Border before dipping back to Protection, from Marked For Death. The set swung back to the current album with Races and Darkhorse, before the show closed prematurely with Heaven, a beauty perhaps considered an ERR signature song. Unfortunately, the evening’s karaoke night cut my current fave, You Don’t Have To Cry, from the set. Live, she sounded superb in both voice and guitar. To say Rundle and band create a mood with her music is an understatement – hypnotic and emoting with builds and crashes is a poor attempt to define it. Adding to this is her voice – powerful and delicate at times, tailing flourishes, anguished. Again, words fail to accurately describe.
Despite the set feeling short, the small crowd was loud in voice and applause. Damn karaoke.
My interview with Emma Ruth Rundle runs on Monday