When: Sat., June 10, 8:30 p.m. 2017
After dropping out of Appalachian State University and moving back to the Triangle last year, Raleigh native Kate Rhudy has fully focused on her music, picking up the pace of both her songwriting and performing. Her full-time return from Boone has been a boon for the local roots scene: having attended fiddler's conventions since her earliest elementary school days, Rhudy now primarily channels her prodigal talent through frank, plaintive lyrics that she delivers with a gorgeous voice. Saturday night marks the release of her long-awaited full-length debut, Rock n' Roll Ain't For Me, which is already an early contender to land among this year's best local releases.
The album's opening track and lead single, "I Don't Think You're an Angel (Anymore)," serves as an ideal introduction to Rhudy's style, matching sober, bittersweet reflections on relationship disillusionment to her emotive, melancholic vocals. Laced with beautiful harmonies from Mipso's Libby Rodenbough and Mandolin Orange's Andrew Marlin, the chorus features a memorable, sighing melody.
"Angel" sets a lofty standard early on, but Rhudy lives up to that high-water mark throughout Rock n' Roll's nine other tracks. Though she's ascribed the genre of "sad river folk" to her music, the album proves that, while still often wistful, Rhudy can deftly offer jaunty fare too. Flipping the forlorn emotions of the relationship fallout in the opener, "I Don't Like You or Your Band" is a toe-tapping kiss-off tune in which Rhudy dismisses any lingering doubt of regret with a brazen, almost giddy refrain of "Your cigarettes, your leather shoes/You, your friends, and your middle-class white boy blues/You've become something I can't stand." Ouch.
Throughout the record, Rhudy ornaments her simple strums with light strings and a bit of percussion and keys from Marlin—who produced the album—and former member of the everybodyfields Josh Oliver. The addition of backing vocals by Emily Frantz, who makes up the other half of Mandolin Orange, and Rodenbough add up to a supergroup of the area's progressive folk stars. Though their contributions elevate Rhudy's songs with pleasant accents, the focus remains squarely—and rightly—on Rhudy's frank words and fantastic voice.
For her album-release show, Rhudy will be assisted by former American Aquarium guitarist Ryan Johnson and Look Homeward bassist Alex Bingham, while promising a few surprise guests as well. Ellis Dyson and Rodenbough open with solo sets. —Spencer Griffith