Establishing himself early as a talented young songwriter, musician and vocalist, Rutledge is one of those artists that we feel will break out in coming months. In fact, it was only a couple of years ago – when he was 17 years old – that Rutledge first dove into writing and recording his own music.
Rutledge’s songs – like the emotive, slow folk rock of “Mysterious Woman” and the haunting “Yours Truly” – are introspective and sublime, with an organic acoustic vibe, and connote a maturity that is beyond his years.
His many influences include The Head & The Heart, Mumford & Sons, and Shakey Graves. These bands also had a huge influence on Rutledge’s guitar playing, he says.
“When I was in high school, I had this great teacher who had created a recording class.”
“In this course we learned a lot about music and musical composition,” Rutledge remembers. “By the end of the course, each student was required to write and record a set of original songs. At that point, I was hooked.”
Around the same time, Rutledge says he also was suffering from a broken heart, which for many musicians leads to great material. These influences had a profound affect on the young musician, spurring the writing of more than a dozen new songs over the span of six months.
Record executive Geordie Gillespie of Unleashed Music first heard Rutledge at the Mesa Music Festival and Jersey Shore Festival, declaring him as “one of the artists to watch” at both fests.
Gillespie then set up a meeting with Rutledge, after which Gillespie offered him a deal.
He felt a perfect match to bring Rutledge’s recordings to fruition was to bring in the three-time Grammy award-winning producer Justin Guip (Levon Helm; My Morning Jacket; The Black Crowes).
Within a few short, productive weeks at the studios in Woodstock, New York, Rutledge and Guip developed the impressive masters for his studio debut, Monsters, which is set to drop on September 15th.
In addition to Rutledge’s stunning picking, the recordings feature the pedal steel work of Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Amy Helm) on songs like “Yours Truly”.
There’s a rustic, organic acoustic feel to the album that has a warm ‘70s Woodstock-like vibe.
From the opening track “Thief Of A Lover,” Rutledge sings: You lost your tongue/in the mouth of an icy stream. The subtle rhythmic groove of “When Life Gives You Monsters” feature Rutledge phrasing in Caribbean-like patois and spitting out lines like: Our two track minds have been tugging on each other / It seems no good can come from staying desperate lovers.
Another standout track, “Heavy Heart,” features a hook-friendly, chill keyboard riff and somber lyrics about another love affair that failed. One of the trademarks Rutledge’s studio debut is how conceptually strong the collection of songs are; lyrics, music, vocals and arrangements all seem wonderfully consistent throughout the record.