Ruby Howl – The Wind and the Tiger

Ruby Howl - The Wind and the Tiger

Ruby Howl - The Wind and the Tiger


Ruby Howl is a husband and wife duo out of San Fransisco, armed with guitars, banjos and haunting voices.  Their music sounds as though it pulls details from many different cultural styles throughout the world.  They blend asian, middle-eastern, european and latin flares with traditional folk and americana to create something completely their own that has hints of darkness and despair that I will dub “banjo noir”. 

Album opener “China” creeps onto the scene with beautifully haunting, asian-inspired banjo.  A gong crashes in the distance and Laurie Hall’s smooth yet low voice enters. The chorus line, “China / Are you far enough away?”,  floats above the banjo, fiddle and intermittent gong crashes.   Hall often takes the vocal lead throughout the album giving each song a chilly air.  

The harmonized finger picking of guitar and banjo throughout “Momentary Bliss” is beautiful  but maintains a sinister quality that you just can’t trust.  This sound shows up on “Impossible” as well.  In “Dreamer”, it’s the piano that resonates with dark emotional longing.  The chilling musical saw in “Spirit” would flat out scare me if I were alone on a dark, rainy night.

Few songs feature Patrick Kadyk on vocals and he definitely doesn’t seem to have the same haunting quality that Hall has.  His voice resembles more of a Bruce Springsteen type and I think it would be more fitting in an setting.  He does, however, sound good with the banjos and harmonizes very well with Hal,l like on “Glitter” where she provides more of a vocal backdrop.   

“Candy Cane” starts out with what sounds like borderline pop guitar and a beat.  But don’t be fooled, this is no happy number.  The minute Hall steps out, the mood changes and the creepy backup singers wail in the background like sirens.  The chorus tries to pick up the beat and pull the blindfold back down but even the electric guitars can’t hide the chilling edge.   

The Wind and the Tiger seems fit for an independent film or a dark alley bar with red velvet curtains and smoke curling around an audience moving in slow motion.  Their banjo noir is far too dark and haunting for your car stereo but would be great paired with rich visuals.