They say you can’t judge a book or an album by its cover and, yet, looking at Eric Ramsey on the cover of It’s a Rough World Baby, it sounds exactly as you’d expect. Ramsey has an easygoing, roots rock, folk vibe that’s just as much electrified blues as it is Americana. Somehow between the cover and the title, I anticipated just how easy on the soul the entire six-song experience was going to be. Not only is the man a guitar maestro that will have you marveling the entire time, but he’s an intelligent and clever lyricist.
The title track is a humorous take on Biblical stories and Christian tropes that comes off as relatable rather than righteous. The first track on the record, “Big Old Bunch of Your Love,” is obsessed with holes, and emptiness in general. From holes in the windows and your jeans to a hole in your soul, there’s even a clever nod to Gabriel’s trumpet. “Highway” is a long-stretched road in the desert heat and plays out like a reflective drive in the Sonoran sandscape. There’s an intoxicating vibe to the song that invites you to get lost in the reverie, smooth and warm, with Ramsey’s charming drawl painting each frame.
If you want something soaked in blues and slide guitar, direct your attention to the stunning “Please.” It’s heart wrenching, introspective and self-reflective, but immaculate in its confessional beauty. “Somehow She Loves Me” is everything the title suggests – a wildly romantic ode to a woman who, beyond his own understanding, returns his love manyfold, and really that’s all most of us are looking for in life. The record finishes with “Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood),” a number steeped in the blues that allows you to once again marvel at this man’s guitar.