We first discovered Andrea Ramolo back in the summer of 2016, as one half of the roots-folk duo Scarlett Jane (with Cindy Doire) that was the opening act for The Jim Cuddy Band. With their 35-minute set, we quickly developed a liking for their country-folk inspired music, and appreciated their natural abilities to capture the full attention of the crowd with just two acoustic guitars and great harmonies. As an added bonus, guitarist Colin Cripps joined Scarlett Jane for a selection of tracks to add his signature guitar sound. We ended up adding their two CDs to our music collection and looking forward to their future works.
On a temporary hiatus from Scarlett Jane, Andrea Ramolo announced in late 2016 that a solo venture was in production, and we were very happy to purchase a copy of her recently released “Nuda” album. Prior to listening to the album this week, any pre-determined notions that I had of this simply being an extension of the Scarlett Jane sound were very quickly quashed about thirty seconds into the opening track “You’re Everywhere.” The anticipated roots-folk sound makes no appearance, and is replaced instead by a surprisingly edgy soul-pop-rock sound that demonstrates an amazing transformation between musical genres for Andrea.
“Nuda” is most definitely not an album by ‘half of Scarlett Jane,’ but a bona-fide solo project that takes a completely new direction and delights the listener with songs of love gone wrong, relationship woes, the ‘wrong guy,’ and other tales of heartache. Whether autobiographical, or just a collection of great tales, while Andrea maintains the theme across the album, she successfully mixes her sound and musical arrangements to keep the listener engaged and avoids any repetition.
“You’re Everywhere” sets the tone for the album immediately, with a notable bass line that creates the mood for her passionate obsession with this ‘wrong guy.’ With the chorus; “It’s your way, not my way, you’re here, you’re everywhere,” this obsession runs deep, and is one that clearly hurts and can lead to nowhere but heartache and pain. I almost sense that the added guitar distortion at the end of the track is the sound of a heart being broken once and for all.
“Lonely” continues the theme, with the lost-love in the arms of another girl, while “Edge of Love” finds her in the arms of ‘that guy’ who will steal her heart against her better judgment. With Andy Maize providing vocals on “Hey Hey Hey,” the heartache softens a little when Ramolo is able to admit to being ‘a sucker for your lies.’ “Wild Town” adds some amazing slide guitar, and up-tempo lyrics that bears resemblance to Whitehorse, and demonstrates that Ramolo can push herself further. The follow up track “Caruso” is amazing, with her Canadian-Italian heritage allowing her to not only perform this song in Italian, but to have an almost ‘summer evening flamenco’ sound to make you feel good. You know too well that she is pouring her heart out here about a broken relationship, even if, like me, your understanding of this language in pretty much non-existent.
After hearing this album several times over the course of the week, it eventually dawned on me that the Scarlett Jane sound does seep in during “Coming Out.” The combination of pedal steel and vocal harmonies from Faye Blais allows this track to pay homage to Ramolo’s ‘other’ sound, yet retains the lyrical edginess that temporarily lightens the moods on this album, whilst upholding the theme that is consistent across all ten tracks.
Nuda is an exceptional piece of work from Andrea Ramolo, and comes highly recommended. This release demonstrates her ability to reinvent her artistic persona and stretch her musical boundaries from Scarlett Jane’s light-hearted roots-folk to an in-depth and personal glimpse inside a heart that struggles to shed the demons that continually plague her in the realm of love.