It’s no surprise at all that Ruby Fields‘ debut album, Been Doin’ It For A Bit, sounds exactly like, well, Ruby Fields. Seemingly a million years in the making, the album is everything that Fields has built her name around and then some. A genuinely fun and charismatically easy listen, Been Doin’ It For A Bit is the edge of summer album you’ve been looking forward to after a long and bleak winter.
On the back of a stellar first EP, 2019’s Permanent Hermit, the Sydney artist has honed in on what she does well, by cultivating some angry and angsty punk, while keeping the Ruby Fields twang and lyricism that first burst onto the airwaves in 2017. And for every full-blown moment of aggressive rock, there are moments of tender and thoughtful love songs with a folk and country vibe that will make you ponder where Fields will go to next.
The album opens up with the already released “Song About A Boy” and “R.E.G.O”, two songs that are similar in their themes and tone, but ultimately veer in differing directions. “Song About A Boy”, eases in through the opening verse before hitting its straps in the chorus. It’s the type of song you’d show people if you were introducing them to Ruby Fields. Like “Song About A Boy”, “R.E.G.O” is Fields reflecting on a previous time/ location and person, except this time it’s about a sharehouse and her best friend. A song that puts the troubles of growing up into perspective, there’s a calming melody and sonic guitar that places “R.E.G.O” near to the top of Been Doin’ It For A Bit‘s pile.
Starting off as a folk ditty, with brushes of the drums and a cheeky bass line, “Kitchen” is a song for friends and partners and those connections that bond you together (“You’ve got my back mate/you know I drink coffee instead of tea”). Its closing 30 seconds is a fulfilling and satisfying end to a charming song and again shows the depth of Fields’ songwriting capabilities.
Staying with the toned-down open nature shown on “Kitchen”, Fields takes things most acoustic on “Airport Café”, as she tells the stories of others in a, you guessed it, airport café. It’s a soft and melancholic take from Fields and showcases an endearing and completely pleasant side to an artist who comes across as tough as guts. Followed by “Pokies (ft. Adam Newling)”, Fields welcomes the listener into her relationship with her dad. It’s a slow, swaying and delicate track that will fit snuggly as the start of an encore whenever live shows kick off again.
The previously released “Pretty Grim”, a dive into depression and alcoholism, is peak Ruby Fields and perfectly displays her honest storytelling and ability to place the listener into her songs. “Ouch” is relentless from front to back with a 90’s teen movie soundtrack vibe, while the vitriolic and completely fun “Worms” is a real riot of a moment. Managing to compare herself and her band to worms, the closing chant will undoubtedly be a feature in any festival set.
Rounding out the album is closer “Bottle-o”. The prettiest and most lovely of three minutes on the album, it is the most different of songs on the album and manages to more than suitably ease the listener out of an album that at times is full throttle and quite intimidating (as an aside, as someone who worked in Bottle-os for a decade, seeing your former job represented in such a pleasant way goes well against a lot the gronks you’d deal with on a Friday night shift). “Bottle-o” is Fields at her most tender and cathartic (apart from “Airport Cafe”), but it is, more importantly, an ace track that continually draws the listener into Fields’ life on Been Doin’ It For A Bit, as she discovers how to live an adult life; one that at times is easy and carefree and at others a complete mess.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Been Doin’ It For A Bit is out Friday 24 September.
Header image credit: Cole Bennetts