In September, New Yorkers might have caught a glimpse of Nashville-based artist Ruby Amanfu during the Neil Fest event at Bowery Ballroom. Amanfu was one of many artists performing covers of Neil Young songs as part of a benefit for Sweet Relief. Covering Young’s “For the Turnstiles”, Amanfu proved more capable of adding her own style and voice to others’ songs, which is a great incentive to listen to her new album, Standing Still, as it features mostly other musician’s works, including Brandi Carlile’s “Shadow on the Wall” (for which there is a video you can watch below), Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet” (the cover she did at Dylan Fest led to the creation of this album) and Kanye West’s “Street Lights”. In fact, out of the ten songs, only the deep “I Tried” is an original.
That brief taste of Amanfu wasn’t enough for many and, a couple of days after the event, she performed a full set over at Rockwood 2 with her backing band. Amanfu possess a beautiful, smokey voice that walks a razor thin edge between fragility and strength. You can be sure the some of the audience will leave sobbing but how close are we to seeing Amanfu tear up? (I’m pretty sure I did see Amanfu wipe at her eyes but I don’t have a photo of that.) There is such a strong, emotional intensity in her performance that you could sense the audience savoring every moment. In between songs, Amanfu shared stories from her own life but the her brief set showed a lot of promise. With her many friends in Nashville, including Jack White, she has great wells of inspiration to draw from. With her great heart and great voice, Amanfu is someone worth watching grow as a musician.
October 23 Columbus, OH @ Palace Theater *
October 24 Bowling Green, KY @ The SKyPAC *
October 26 Memphis, TN @ Orpheum Theatre *
*w/ Norah Jones
October 30 New Orleans, LA @ Voodoo Music + Arts Experience
November 4 Nashville, TN @ 3rd & Lindsley