Since her 2014 debut album Solitude, Ruby Boots (Bex Chilcott) received the Australian Government’s Council for the Arts’ Nashville Songwriter Residency grant, packed up her belongings, headed to the USA, wrote her new album and recorded with the Texas Gentlemen as her backing band.
Don’t Talk About It is a leap forward for Chilcott, both as a songwriter and in terms of the sound of her music. She’s cast her musical net wider, drawing on indie rock, heavy riffin’ boogie rock, pop elements and cosmic Americana – all the while heavily lacing it with her trademark infectious way with melody and heartfelt lyrics.
The overarching themes of the album take in pride and self-belief as well as the eternal such for love and honesty. ‘I Am A Woman’ strips back the music as Chilcott delivers a show-stopping declaration of womanhood – the ‘eye of the storm’ moment on the album. Elsewhere, ‘Infatuation’ is most reminiscent of her first record, ‘Easy Way Out’ is a sonic paean to Tom Petty, ‘I’ll Make It Through’ possesses an impossibly catchy chorus and the title track is a superb example of soulful melancholia. The greatest achievement of Don’t Talk About It is the way Chilcott’s songwriting has become fully realised. It has always been remarkably honest and bursting with hooks and melody but here she’s imbued it with the right balance of sass, wit, sensuality and melancholy. The songs swell and hit the heartstrings, particularly on the title track. There’s the fizz and stomp of the first single ‘It’s So Cruel’ that switches gears for ‘Believe In Heaven’ which suggests Joan Jett and Jack White laying down rock and soul at a 1950s sock hop.
Trouble abounds but optimism prevails and Ruby Boots has clearly poured her creative heart and soul into her sophomore album. The inevitable and ironic outcome will be that plenty of people will be talking about it.