Quite often the music coming out of Australia is spectacular; from artists like Tame Impala to bands like AC/DC, the country manages to provide something for everyone. This reputation for excellence may seem daunting to some, but Aussie artist Ruby Fields steps up to the plate with enviable ease in her first full-length album Been Doin’ It For A Bit.
As the title suggests, Ruby Fields has been in the public eye for some years now, first making waves back in 2017 as a fresh-faced 19-year old with her debut single ‘I Want’. Since her breakout hit, Fields has been a force to be reckoned with, releasing an unrelenting torrent of brilliant music. Been Doin’ It For A Bit acts as a reflection of her experiences to date, rounded up into a debut that gives a wholly comprehensive view of Fields as an artist. Simultaneously, the album celebrates her resounding successes while making peace with mistakes made and lessons learned.
Serving vivacious vocals over growling guitars, opener ‘Song About A Boy’ is a shredding yet intimate tune exploring a past relationship. Welcoming us into her world of no-bullshit honesty, Fields’ opening track paints a blistering portrait of the aftermath of love gone wrong. Within her lyrics Fields’ shares a raw reflection of her experiences: “and now we talk through mutual friends / I’m so unsure how I feel about this”. Mirroring just how quickly a relationship can turn sour, Fields’ gentle opening verses snaps into a rip-roaring electric guitar chorus. Equally quickly bouncing back to her husky vocals, the audience is fully enveloped into all of Fields’ emotions, no holds barred.
Proving herself to be a versatile artist, Fields leans into folk in tracks such as ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Pokies’, which features alt-folk singer Adam Newling. ‘Kitchen’ is an altogether lighter song, beginning with sweet strings and honeyed vocals alongside folk-rock guitars. Filled with light and her unwavering vocals, ‘Kitchen’ is a song bursting with acceptance and a sensation of satisfaction as she sings “that’s just fine with me”. Throughout Fields’ discography, it’s evident she can’t resist a resounding outro, and ‘Kitchen’ is no different with a climactic finish that’s set to raise goosebumps on any listener’s arms.
An undulation of sound and texture is apparent throughout the record. Fields consistently contrasts light with heavy, snapping between the two and throwing the confines of genre to the wind. ‘Airport Cafe’ starts out sweetly with soft vocals and acoustic guitars before gradually building towards powerhouse instrumentals rammed with an intensity that’s bound to set off moshpits at one of her live shows.
The penultimate tune,‘Clothes Line’, sees Fields push her vocals to ever higher heights alongside soaring guitars. The slower tempo emphasizes Fields’ dark ruminations as she sings “if the reaper comes to claim to me / and all I’ve gone and done / is write some shitty music / and take some shitty drugs” over a stripped back, reverberating instrumental. Her gloomy reflections turn to statements of defiance as she belts “I’ll smile at him / I’ll laugh at him”. With this change of attitude, the instrumental deepens leading into a pounding outro that acts as a sonic overpowering of Fields’ doubts and fears.
The final tune on the record shows an entirely different side to the singer-songwriter. Suddenly stripping back to bare piano ‘Bottle’o’ features a sweet plinking melody which keeps the listener’s attention firmly on Fields’ heartfelt vocals. As the last single released from the album, it’s clear that ‘Bottle’o’ is dear to Fields’ heart, in fact she lists it as one of her favourites from the body of work. Written about waiting for someone who never arrived, ‘Bottle’o’ is tender and sweet.
The lyrics are tinged with sadness as Fields sings “I’m a little bit sunburned / a little bit sad / my cheeks are red / and I think I’ve been had”. Under the lyrics, the repetitive piano melody twinkles away, instilling a feeling of hope. With The Lumineers reminiscent harmonised outro, it’s just as easy to imagine an adoring crowd singing along to ‘Bottle’o’ as to one of the other crashing tracks on the album.
Been Doin’ It For A Bit is a definitive sign that there is more still to Ruby Fields and cements her place on our list of Australian talents to keep an eye on.
Words by Ella McLaren
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