Album Review: Amber Rubarth – Wildflowers in the Graveyard

After being hit by a car Amber Rubarth sustained serious injuries which threatened her music career. During her recovery she spent time in her local graveyard, observing the overgrown wildflowers and finding comfort in the eternal cycle of life. Thankfully she was able to play and sing again and the result is Wildflowers in the Graveyard, an album of quiet beauty enough to soothe any restless soul.

The opening track takes us straight to the graveyard which inspired the title – she’s walking herself back to life, trying to recover from what has tried to destroy her by looking for nature’s help. The music is delicate, understated indie folk.  All the answers that I’ve been hoping to find were written in the water. This lyric reminded me of the gravestone of poet John Keats, which is engraved with ‘here lies one whose name was writ in water.’ He understood the impermanence of life. Nothing endures. Answers are fleeting. Death is inevitable. This simple acoustic song brings those ideas to life with poignant power.

Moon is a love song, where she is thinking about the future and trying to forget the past. Problems in your heart can be solved by walking under the stars. Even in the darkest of night nature offers hope for renewal. The sun will appear again, it always does.

Nature in Canyon Lines could be both a comfort and a danger. The vast and exposed emptiness of a canyon is a metaphor for the unpredictable nature of love. The hope in her heart can be felt in every guitar string. The subtle acoustic sounds of Mystery of Light and If I Fall Asleep, echo as you listen to them, blending beautifully so they feel like one sweep of a song. New York has a simple rhyme, exploring her own feeling of directionlessness. Yet even in a song about a city nature is never far away – just look at the sky and you could be anywhere.

In Wishing Song the concept of songwriting itself is used to explore her relationship: I wish our love was a song so when anything went wrong we’d just cross it our and try another rhyme…for days on end it’d run back through our minds. She’s wishing, planting seeds, hoping for a better future. Much like on the album released by Joan Shelley earlier this year, the music reflects the themes: simplicity becomes strength.

As We Walk Into the Night is a goodbye but it’s not the end. You have to say leave sure but maybe it’s like Springsteen once sang ‘everything dies, baby that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies one day comes back.’ As Wildflowers in the Graveyard fades away you only want to go back to the start and play it again.

Amber’s Pledge Music campaign included some gorgeous products and I love when musicians use their own art (like the cover of the Katie Ellen album I reviewed earlier this year). You can now order album bundles and vinyl direct from Amber’s shop: Also look out for her starring in the movie American Folk, with Joe Purdy early next year.

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