Jay Ruffin | Skeleton Key

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Continental Drifters Steve Earle The Smithereens

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Rock: Roots Rock Folk: Power-folk Moods: Featuring Guitar
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Skeleton Key

by Jay Ruffin

This ain't folk music, and it ain't country either. This is as rockin' as the Ramones, as thought-provoking as Steve Earle and as jangley as the Continental Drifters, without compromising Ruffin's own style or falling into pastiche.
Genre: Rock: Roots Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. No Big Deal
3:42 $0.99
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2. Run Virginia Run
2:42 $0.99
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3. The Lucky One
3:22 $0.99
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4. Bigger Stones
2:14 $0.99
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5. Dirty Little Town (Too Late For Prayer)
3:31 $0.99
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6. Never Be The Same
2:26 $0.99
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7. Don't Let Me Down Too Hard
3:47 $0.99
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8. Good Girl
3:39 $0.99
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9. Common Ground
3:31 $0.99
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10. Before All Hope Is Gone
3:22 $0.99
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11. Skeleton Key
4:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
RINGO RECORDS is proud to present the debut of JAY RUFFIN. Born and raised in the Mississippi delta, Ruffin has received critical acclaim for his contributions on Nancy Apple's Outside the Lines and Shoulda Lied About That - staging him to step into the spotlight with SKELETON KEY.

On this release, Ruffin's talents as a front man and songwriter are showcased, but don't toss this southern boy in the back of the truck with the current crop of singer/songwriters - this ain't folk music, and it ain't country either. Skeleton Key cracks open new horizons for Ruffin. Experimenting with tones, instruments and players, the result is as rockin' as the Ramones, as thought-provoking as Steve Earle and as jangley as the Continental Drifters, without compromising Ruffin's own style or falling into pastiche.

Having shared the stage together for 10 years, Ruffin co-
produced Skeleton Key with the help of longtime friend, next door neighbor and label owner NANCY APPLE - who also contributed vocals. Recorded in Memphis at JT Studios, owned by former Neville Brother's Band keyboard player JONATHAN TREEBY. JT engineered and played organ, other guests of note include blues star REBA RUSSELL and Delta bassist BARRY BAYS (Mohead, Shawn Lane).

Jay Ruffin has put together an all girl back up band to hit the highway with him in support of SKELETON KEY. Look for JAY RUFFIN and the LUV MUFFINS in the summer and fall of 2005.

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Reviews


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Chris Herrington - Memphis Flyer

a straight-up rocker, one whose sound bounces agreeably from the vaguely rootsy
Sound Advice
The Flyer's music writers tell you where you can go.

A longtime sideman and collaborator for local roots-music queen Nancy Apple, Jay Ruffin goes solo this month with Skeleton Key, the first release on Apple's Ringo Records not by Apple herself. Ruffin has recorded solo before, under the name Jay Harrington (Ruffin is his middle name), but with Skeleton Key the ostensible alt-country player has undergone a skillful, convincing makeover as a straight-up rocker, one whose sound bounces agreeably from the vaguely rootsy (think Steve Earle or Tom Petty) to the poppy (Marshall Crenshaw) to slightly harder, more electric stuff ('80s/early-'90s college rock).

The guitars on Skeleton Key cut more than jangle, but it's the songcraft that stands out: Some songs -- "Dirty Little Town," with its background vocals and big guitar solo; "Common Ground," with its growling vocal, blues-rock guitars, and organ fills --fit into the classic-rock vein. But the best-sounding songs --"Run Virginia Run" or the uptempo "Never Be the Same" -- have the pop gallop of vintage Crenshaw. As a transition from alt-country to straight-up rock, Skeleton Key bears some musical resemblance to the Old 97s' breakout albums Fight Songs and Satellite Rides, though Ruffin's lyrics aren't in the same ballpark as Rhett Miller's best.

Ruffin will celebrate the release of Skeleton Key at Paddy's Irish Pub, inside the Edge District's Stop 345 space, Saturday, April 16th. Helping him out will be his all-female backup band, The Luv Muffins.
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The Commercial Appeal - Bill Ellis

Jay Ruffin looks to such musical signifiers as the Smithereens and Marshall Cren
Skeleton Key

Jay Ruffin

(Ringo Records)

Drawing on the '80s in a Me Decade sort of way, Jay Ruffin looks to such musical signifiers as the Smithereens and Marshall Crenshaw on new album Skeleton Key.

Previously calling himself Jay Harrington -- he now uses his middle name -- Ruffin is perhaps best known as the guitarist in Nancy Apple's band. No surprise then that the Cadillac Cowgirl co-produced this rocking affair and released it on her label, Ringo Records. Something of a surprise, however, is the noticeable lack of twang, which Ruffin had made a career of while accompanying Apple and on his earlier Steve Earle-inspired solo work.

Given his stylistic makeover from No Depression to college rock obsession, the name change is appropriate. Getting a beefy guitar sound throughout, Ruffin (who also plays bass here) touches on everyone from the Plimsouls ("The Lucky One") to the Beat Farmers (a cover of "Bigger Stones"), a big country map of influences that sails right past would-be nostalgia.

And what's not to like about the colorful cover art by vintage rock fan Lamar Sorrento?

Backed by the all-female band the Luv Muffins (with Apple in tow), Jay Ruffin will hold an April 16 CD release party at Paddy's Memphis Pub, 345 Madison.

Red Hot is a review column of local and regional recordings. Send CDs to Bill Ellis, The Commercial Appeal, 495 Union Ave., Memphis, Tenn., 38103.
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Mark Wehner

Jay is my hero!
Born on the Mississippi Delta, Jay Ruffin has more than enough heart and soul to make his debut disc, Skeleton Key, a memorable experience. He's also figured out the trick to the grueling life of being a musician on the road: The Luv Muffins is an all girl band. Jay ... you're my hero!
Mark Wehner - Americana Tonight, Nashville
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Dan Forte - Vintage Guitar Magazine

Memorable originals
Vintage Guitar
Nov 2005
Jay Ruffin, Skeleton Key
Ruffin supplies vocals, bass, keyboards, and twangy guitar, on this set of
memorable originals, which he co-produced with label head Nancy Apple, who
sings backup here (with Reba Russell) and is in the Memphis songwriter's
all-female (?cant' read word) Jay Ruffin & The Luv Muffins. A potent
combination. -DF
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Nightflying Magazine

It’s rock, but with a taste of that ol’ Memphis soul at times. Quite nice.
SKELETON KEY
Jay Ruffin
Ringo
Hello information, give me Memphis, Tennessee ... oh wait, I’ve got the number right here: 901-213-9726 ...yep, that’s the number to call if you want to find out more about Ringo Records and/or Jay Ruffin Harrington. Most of the tunes on this disc were cut with just Jay and one or two others and yet they have plenty going for them. It’s rock, but with a taste of that ol’ Memphis soul at times. Quite nice. Nancy Apple co-produced along with Jay and even joins in on vocals some. Mostly he gets percussive help from Jason Hatcher. Barry Bays adds some bass work and Johnathon Treeby handles organ on a couple cuts and Reba Russell adds background vocals. Other than one cover, Jay wrote all the songs. 
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