Ruby & Smith
A Ukulele Album (Independent)
Coming exactly as advertised, A Ukulele Album is indeed centred around the instrument favoured by four out of five descendants of Hawaii’s King Kalākaua. But don’t expect the duo of Daphne Roubini and Andrew Smith to sound like the house band at the fabulous Royal Hawaiian on this low-key but charming full-length.
Instead, the two uke aces have crafted a jazz-dusted record made for hanging out on a ramshackle porch in Louisiana at sundown, a mint julep in one hand as the fireflies hover in the forest. This is gorgeous and effortlessly melancholy stuff, with Roubini’s deliciously slurred vocals front and centre in the mix.
A Ukulele Album isn’t without its small stylistic diversions, with “Motherless Child” a skeletal exercise in unvarnished Americana and “Ballad for Andrea” suggesting Ruby & Smith aren’t completely averse to the 2 a.m. blues.
And, perhaps in the name of appealing to ukulele purists, the duo even make a wonderful case they know exactly where their instrument of choice comes from, with the enchanting instrumental “Lovelight in Your Eyes” sounding like a lost track from the Descendants soundtrack. Let Ruby & Smith transport you to the palm-swept shores of Kauai. And don’t forget to trade that mint julep in for a mai tai.