by Frank Ippolito
The Rifle’s profile reads, “Making music (secretly) in Tucson”, but after listening to Rib to Rib, the secret will soon be out about Nelene DeGuzman and her
writing and musicianship.
Sparse is how I would describe this record. Lo-fi is another way to characterize this blues-in-nature record. Also, there’s a wonderful aura of ambiance to each of the songs on this 7 track CD. In fact, the slight waterfall behind a couple of the tracks adds a very nice serene vibe and perfectly compliments the vocals.
“Kill your darlings”, the first track, could have been recorded at the Crossroads. The vibrato guitar and beat of a tambourine captures the Memphis sound and The Rifle’s voice resonates far above the music even though it is light and airy. This is one of the things I truly enjoy about the music: the tug of war continues throughout the entire album and little by little it burrows into your ears – and then The Rifle’s lyrics find its target, your soul.
On, “The ground”, harmonica takes the lead in front of the train-like rhythm of the song Again, the storytelling is great, and that’s good, because truth be told, the music isn’t all that complicated, and it doesn’t have to be. There’s a quiet contemplation to her song structure, and she masterfully uses that quality to its fullest extent.
“Down deep down” is funeral dirge for the deepest part of her soul. Moody and bleak, it is awesome. “Rib to rib”, the title track, is a heart-to-heart talk while lying in bed with someone and, well, it isn’t going so well…
“Settle down” “Albany” and “Delta of Venus”, finish out the album and are all wonderful tunes – and rather than go into details, I’ll simply recommend you take a listen.
This just hit me: There’s a Kim Deal haunting quality to The Rifle’s vocals and I believe that is why I dig the sound so much. That, and it’s a pretty damn good album. Listen to The Rifle and her Rib to Rib EP here.