Kama Ruby – “Mistake” / “Treasure Island”
This single comes in anticipation of Kama Ruby’s third album. Her previous albums helped to establish a sound that’s based heavily on jazz traditions, but manages to stretch beyond them by incorporating other types of music into the mix. The songs here are really great examples of that type of musical conception.
While this might be a remake of the classic Moby song, Ruby manages to make it all her own. Based on the torch song tradition (more on that in a moment), “Mistake” has a modern element in the arrangement. The music is solid and works pretty well. It’s not my kind of thing, though. The cut does feature the piano work of Mike Garson, who is best known for his extensive work with David Bowie.
It’s actually quite appropriate for that song to be delivered in a torch song style. In general the style refers to one person holding a “torch” for another person who has left them. The lyrics to the piece speak to that kind of tradition. Since in general, torch songs are sung by women, it wouldn’t apply to the original version. Just having a woman singing the song brings it closer to the definitive label. Then, when you add a jazz style to the music, it becomes an obvious fit. To me, that makes this an excellent of example of how an artist can reframe a song from another artist and make it their own. Obviously Moby couldn’t do it as a torch song, even though it had that potential.
The second song of this single is “Treasure Island.” While the performance here feels a little over the top, it is a pretty song with a folk music turned adult contemporary sound. Again, this song isn’t one that Ruby wrote. It was penned Jane Getz and Jon Strider. Getz actually handles the piano and provides some vocals on this rendition.
In general, this isn’t the kind of thing I would listen to. That said, it’s not without its merits or charms. There must be a market for this kind of music. In fact, I’m sure there is. I just don’t fall into that market.