What is Honest uproots pain and self-medicates with each tension-impacted note.
Talullah Ruff has jewel-toned vocals with the power to sing of tearful desperation. Her jazz-blues style in “What is Honest” floats over threading beats with subdued power, and dances on the count.
Talullah sings with restraint combined with a free-leap aesthetic. “Anger is an Acid” is octave-love that carries lyrics of regret and wishful angst.
“I Am Not,” the album’s anchor, is delicate vocals with key-led patience. The pacing quickens with string accompaniment and control- layered vocals. Whispered range and passionate falsettos drift into a place of peace, and heals broken depths with the clarity of Talullah’s range.
There she goes with that potent whisper in “Home is Where the Heart Aches,” and grief becomes the atmosphere. It’s a heart-cutting track where Talullah Ruff partners with chord-heavy keys and bares toxic hopelessness. Memories flood, and tears stream, loss prevails, while musicianship is gained in this affecting track.
“Paper and Ink Girl” closes with brass-work and a stop-go beat. This is a voice-jam with ‘who-I-am’ openness. This is a master track of poetic imagery presented in self-analyzing lyrics like: “You see rivers of ink where my veins should be.”
Talullah Ruff’s What is Honest is artistry from the vocals to the instrumentals; better than that, it’s true musicianship. No bells and whistles; no smoke-shielding effects; just this woman and the music.