Renowned Linfield band releases gem of a debut album

Photo courtesy of Jesse Hughey Jack Ruby Presents (left to right, seniors Melissa Davaz, Jesse Hughey, Chris Hernandez and Aaron Owens) performs at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland.

Jack Ruby Presents’ debut album, “Over Wires and White Plains,” displays the power of the band’s performances

Linfield’s resident band, Jack Ruby Presents, has hit the ground running with the release of its first full-length album. The production is an overwhelmingly successful piece of art that will entice and engage any listener.

“Over Wires and White Plains,” released under the independent Alaskan record label Home Skillet Records, carries with it a wide range of emotions beautifully presented through the band’s powerful vocals and instrumentation.

Senior Jesse Hughey explained that “wires” can be seen either as barbed wire keeping people out or telephone wires bringing people together.

The album maintains a degree of tension through its majority by blending acoustic and electric sounds and combining the varying vocals of seniors Hughey, Melissa Davaz and Chris Hernandez.

The tension is also upbeat with senior Aaron Owens’ drumming, which maintains a certain swing that keeps the listener moving, even on some of the darker songs.

Altogether, the album serves as a revival of traditional western music reminiscent of Johnny Cash combined with the roots of the Pacific Northwest made popular by folk rock bands such as Fleet Foxes. In fact, the term “White Plains” reminds the listener that, while the sound has a western theme to it, the album largely takes place in the northwest.

Hughey called the album, “a throwback to our history as people from the northwest.”

The album begins unconventionally with a six-minute waltz, “Spanish Songs,” which sets the stage for the rest of the album by introducing elements of dance and emotion. From this starting point, the listener journeys through a range of emotions and sounds.

With songs swaying between different moods, the listener is never left complacent. Songs like “Dead Man’s Reach” and “White Roses” are fast and fun, while “Stay” and “Strange Fruit/Three Men Hanging” have more soul and power in them.

“Strange Fruit/Three Men Hanging” is a cover of two songs: Billie Holiday’s famous “Strange Fruit” and Murder by Death’s “Three Men Hanging.” Featuring Davaz’ sultry singing, the song’s lyrics about lynching and southern racism resonate deep in the soul of the listener.

Hughey explained that the band attempted to “rearticulate that pain for a new generation.”

After confronting that pain, the album culminates with “Innocent,” which potently recaptures all the emotions expressed in the album through a hard, steady melody for 10 minutes; yet, it still somehow seems to end too soon.

“Dead Man’s Reach II” follows as a short catharsis, reminding the listener that all journeys must eventually end.

“I’d like to think there’s some traveling happening over the course of the album,” Hughey said.

This traveling — sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes happy, sometimes sad — carries the western theme of the album.

The debut album is a huge success and an incredible musical experience that will likely set fans’ expectations high for upcoming releases. But Jack Ruby Presents certainly seems capable of delivering.

“Over Wires and White Plains” will be released May 15 at a free release show (21+) at the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland at 9 p.m. with Pine Language. The CD will also be for sale at Jack Ruby Presents’ final Cat Cab at 9 p.m. May 20 in the Fred Meyer Lounge.

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Braden Smith

Managing editor

Braden Smith can be reached at

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