Emma Ruth Rundle has had a remarkable career, and it’s only growing in stature. From her early beginnings with Nocturnes, playing on Red Sparowes’ third album, and then fronting the bone-chilling Marriages, she’s become one of the pre-eminent names in the Gothic realm. She can easily rage with metal bands or enchant within the gloomy folklore of Kate Bush. No matter the genre, she devastates and tantalizes. Her artistry was fully displayed on her last two albums, the trembling Marked for Death and the resoundingly urgent On Dark Horses, and they both made our Favorite Albums List for 2016 and 2018, respectively. As a reminder of her power and the greatness of these two records, the Louisville native released a b-side from On Dark Horses, and it reveals Rundle’s complexity.
“Staying Power” is an emotional hurricane. It commences like a fairy tale with its calm, gentle melody. The first minute, though, is the calm before the storm. The clouds start to come in, and Rundle’s beautiful ferocity gradually emerges. Through the rumbling percussion and stark guitar strikes, her voice goes from controlled to a slightly raging. She is a lonely artist – a lone wolf, “a wooden soldier” – that is constantly on the move and shedding all emotional ties. Every day she grinds away in order to survive while sacrificing her soul to those who watch from below. This is the life of a touring musician, which is unforgiven and relentless. Rundle, though, isn’t seeking anyone’s pity. She only wants to be heard, especially in these dreary times. As she sings:
“I’m running, looking over my own shoulder
at the fool out on the road just getting older
And I’m cut like all the diamonds in my mind
Is that all there is?
Such a lonely prize
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