Opening acts have it tough.
Most everyone in the audience didn't come to the concert to see them. Most opening acts are also relatively new to performing. If you're going to a concert, chances are, you have an expectation in your brain of what the headliner sounds like, and anything else is a bit...well, foreign. It's kinda like working out, reaching for your water bottle, and someone has secretly replaced the water with milk. Not that you hate milk, you just weren't expecting to taste milk at that moment.
The opening act I saw was the folk/soul duo Sam & Ruby and I'll admit at first I thought they were okay, they certainly could sing well together, but the songs didn't really do it for me. Then they began Suitcase Song and it initially struck me as being too whimsical, especially the first verse. Suddenly the lyrics (to me) went beyond "if a suitcase could talk". Whether Sam & Ruby meant this or not, who cares? When the chorus hit, it was as if being struck on the head with a cast-iron skillet. And I got it. Soaring melody, wonderful harmonization, and perfect chord changes. You could tell their music came from a deep place. The arrangements on their debut full-length CD are sparse yet fit seamlessly into the blending of their voices.
It's a testament to Sam & Ruby that their music was able to break through whatever mental block I had going that night. I'm really glad it did. Heaven's My Home made it to the soundtrack of the movie The Secret Life of Bees. The song The Here and the Now, was just devastatingly gorgeous. A song about redemption, starting over, and living for today. This is the song you play when you're through being pissed off at your partner, have had time to calm down, and realize just how stupid you acted the first place. All and all, not bad for the first song Sam & Ruby wrote together! (You can hear all three songs on their MySpace page.)
And in case you're wondering, Sam Brooker is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and Ruby Amanfu is from Ghana. They connected in Nashville. Reviews from iTunes and critics are along the lines of "musical soulmates". Take a few minutes and give it a listen -- I think you'll agree.
Sam & Ruby - Music You Need Too Hear