O Memorie, the project and self-titled album of UK-based musician Joseph Ruddleston, strives to, in his words, “pay respect to all the bruising, all-encompassing moments we walk through and away from”. It’s a warm and sometimes rueful ode to someone’s personal history – whether truly his own or a work of fiction - and such is the detail that you’ll feel you’ve lived some of those moments with him.
O Memorie never feels like a big project, despite the fact that there are a whole range of different instruments dotted around the album. You’ll hear baleful trumpets on 'Helen Hugh', harsh but rich clarinets in 'Overcast', not to mention delicate noodling on electronic-sounding backing in the same track. What Ruddleston manages so well is to introduce so many diverse musical elements and keep them neatly arranged on his front doorstep.
Looking at the categories Ruddleston has allocated to O Memorie himself, you see a strong focus on folk and lo-fi – “folk,” “bedroom folk,” “freak folk” and “indiefolk” are all listed as tags. It’s absolutely true that acoustic guitars, traditionally influenced melodies and fuzzy recordings hold their own corners within the album. There is, however, a much wider mixture of inspiration to pore over. You’ll find soulful piano, and sun-kissed, jazz-tinged electric guitar, not to mention the real cinematic edge to the instrumental segments of the album.
The lo-fi assertion, too, really only covers a small portion of what you’ll hear on O Memorie. The song 'Sloe Gin', for example, could have been sung into a phone, as Ruddleston croons softly about loss and losing yourself in drink. As the track opens out, however, the broad, echoing sound of the accordion takes you somewhere else entirely, and it’s followed swiftly by backing vocals softer still. The composition of 'Mt Rain', too, melds together field recordings and soaring vocals that seem to move in all different directions – though its style is similar to the rest of the album, it leaves you somewhere totally different as a listener.
'Halloween 06' is a track that hits home harder than most, as Ruddleston takes time away from singing to narrate over a simple guitar and ethereal hum. The open-book attitude towards honesty and personality means that in 'Halloween 06', the unedited telling of a story of youth feels like O Memorie at its most undiluted.
O Memorie is impossible to properly categorise, and that is to Joseph Ruddleston’s credit – it makes his humanisation of these stories as individual as he surely meant it, while still managing to truly call it his own. Most importantly, it lets you in as a listener, rather than hiding away, and is far too compelling to turn off.