Australia’s Ruby Fields blew up on the local music scene in 2017, going platinum in her home country off her smart, lyrically detailed songs. On her latest album Been Doin’ It for a Bit, Fields brings the same knack for detailed, observational storytelling, while kicking the music up a notch to make some great, satisfying rock n’ roll.
Fields shows a mastery for the soft/loud dynamic throughout her latest endeavor. Opener “Song About a Boy” begins with mellow guitars and a tempered vocal delivery in typical singer-songwriter style, but as the drums and electric guitar kick in, the track evolves into a rock rave-up. Yet even through the beautiful noise, Fields still fills the song with detailed memories of a drug-addicted friend (“You were doing lines in my car and laughing. People were passing”).
While Fields clearly wants to make a rock album, she’s never loses her knack for pop sheen. While the guitars are fuzzed out as she shouts with kiss-off pluck “Admit you’re a masochist. Pretend you don’t exist” on “R.E.G.O.”, the chorus blends in warm, shimmering harmonies. And the R&B shuffle on “Kitchen” doesn’t hide the sincere love song at its center, with Fields vacillates between cooing and caterwauling, singing “I won’t get tired of waking up next to you”. The high energy track concludes with a joyous melodic jam.
The songs here match the hooks with substance. “Pretty Grim” tackles depression and alcoholism with upbeat folk punk fire, while “Pokies” brings in fellow Aussie Adam Newling for a ballad about an alcoholic parent wasting money on booze instead of what’s needed to survive. Not always uplifting subject matter, but the fulfilling arrangements pack enough punch to blow out any depressing feelings.
And of course, some of the songs are simply made for crowd sing-alongs. “Ouch” is the kind of bubblegum punk that the Ramones would be proud of, and “Worms” turns “Go Fuck Yourself” into a rowdy call-and-response that will play perfectly in a club. Fields then gets really heavy on “Clothes Line”, using a bruising bass line to carry a stand-off with death, as Ruby defiantly sings “He will never keep me” before a grungy guitar solo blares out.
“Bottle’o” is a perfect closer for the album; a jaunty piano pub drinking song that balances loneliness and acceptance. There’s a peaceful melancholy to Fields’ singing here, as lines like “I’m a little bit sun burnt, a little bit sad” bring us intimately close to her.
There is a lot to love on Been Doin’ It for a Bit, and simply impeccable songwriting on display over the album’s eleven tracks. Take a listen to it here: