Something dark lurks in the desert. Beyond the lonesome lost highways of the Texas Panhandle; past the farm roads where tumbleweeds outnumber people; below the towering sky, Sarah Ruth Alexander taps into the rich history of her homeland and family to create a breathtaking, singular epic: Her debut album as a solo artist, Words On The Wind, on Pour Le Corps.
Through spare, classical-informed arrangements recalling the ambiance of Erik Satie, Nick Cave, Swans, or Julianna Barwick, Sarah Ruth harnesses the power and stark beauty of the natural world around her to weave a distinctive sound and narrative at turns haunting, poetic, and autobiographical. (Much of the record is inspired by her upbringing on a rural West Texas farm that’s been in her family since 1864, as well as being raised by survivors of the Dust Bowl.)
Embracing an austere, unwavering focus, these aren’t songs; they’re experimental, neo-noir meditations, evoking a distinctly Southern gothic landscape. Sarah Ruth’s ruminations on everything from betrayal, to the blood in her veins, to the fading traditions of her ancestors capture the state of Texas as cinematic state of mind, conjuring the desolation of the wide-open planes, the pulverizing wind of a dust storm, the charmingly homespun, dirt-flecked narration of a Terrence Malick film.
Despite all this, it’s her voice that never ceases to command the spotlight. Operatic in its trenchant emotional pull-pristine, crystalline, penetrating, soaring-Sarah Ruth’s vocal gymnastics are mesmerizing. Her singing enveloping, warm, mysterious and smoky as a glass of old bourbon, is a talent shaped by her diverse musical education: Studying with vocalist/composer Meredith Monk; at the University of North Texas, where she concentrated on vocal studies and electroacoustic composition; through her solo performances, as well as with bands like Cerulean Giallo, They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy, and Violent Squid.
Something dark lurks in the desert. A faceless voice, somewhere in the distance, is heard on the frayed thread of the wind. Sarah Ruth closes her eyes. She takes a breath, exhales the Southern prairie-scent. This is her home. – bio by Cole Garner Hill