Ruth Minnikin
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Ruth Minnikin

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | INDIE | AFM

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2003
Band Americana Avant-garde




"Belgian Reviews, Le Cri Du Coyote"

Live EP
Minnikin plays in the same league as the Be Good Tanyas, The Cowboy Junkies and Gillian Welch...Sure to remember Ruth’s great voice and superb playing.

Le Cri Du Coyote - translation
Folk Art
Ruth Minnikin surprises and charms with Folk Art. Enter circus music, staggered ritornellos, traditional song and good humour (Chicken Cooped Up In Country Music, amazing...) Ruth brings huge expectations, even though she is touring (in Canada and everywhere) since ten years back. Meaning, pleasure, and an ever-present smile. Can you ask for any more? A voice you listen to with attention, without ever forcing its way. A Gillian Welch-baroque, if you please. This album is from 2006, and she promises a sequel for next year. I have already put a mark in my calendar.

"London Sunday Times - UK - Folk Art - Live EP"

Folk Art
Ruth Minnikin signed with EMI as part of The Booming Airplanes at the age of 17. Ten years and several albums with Nova Scotian Alternative Country band The Guthries later, she issues her third solo record, Folk Art, in a small cloth bag with stenciled artwork, accompanied by a handwritten track sheet. Recorded and mixed in three days, even fans of lo-fi singer songwriters like Jodie Holland or Freakwater might find Folk Art a little minimal, but Minnikins cracked vocal skips over perfectly miniaturized songs featuring mandolin, banjo and French horn. There is a hootenanny in the dolls’ house.

Minnikin seems poised for sustainable cult status. Fans lamenting the dissolution of The Guthries will find the distilled essence of the group here, with gentle pedal steel, sublime harmonies, and softly plucked mandolin from her former band-mates supporting Minnikin’s cracked, meandering vocal…The gap between artist and comsumer is virtually closed. - Stewart Lee

"4 Stars - Uncut - UK - Folk Art - Live EP"

Folk Art
Canadian country gal Ruth Minnikin just gets better and better. Beautifully presented in a stamped canvas sleeve, third LP Folk Art (4 stars) finds her shifting further from the sweet country-folk of earlier work into the darker recesses of rural American tradition. A bony set of tunes veering from freakshow carnival nightmares (Bad Dreams Pt.1) through N’awlins jazz (Chicken Cooped Up In Country Music) to spare parlour folk (Song Mill).

Canadian Ruth Minnikin’s eponymous five track EP, lovingly crafted debut is slow-singing country-folk from the former Guthries chanteuse. Pitched somewhere between Iris Dement and Shawn Colvin, Amy’s Moon and Snow Day are sweetly plucked hangovers from her former band.
- Robert Hughes

"Folk Art"

Ruth Minnikins genius lies in her mastery of the understated. Recorded in two days and mixed in 24 hours, Folk Art is a no-muss-no-fuss album that delivers. Minnikins gently warm, rich vocals and distinctive tone set her apart from other female folkies. The songs amble along at a relaxed pace, with Southern Misfortune, hinting at Minnikins torchier country side, and her sense of clever wordplay comes out in Admirable Admiral. Minnikin is ably backed by members of The Guthries and The Heavy Blinkers, including her brother, Gabe Minnikin. Gentle touches of bassoon, horns and bass clarinet complement the guitar and banjo sounds in lieu of a bass guitar or string bass, which contribute to a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. - Shannon Whibbs - Chart Attack

"8/10 - Folk Art"

A bafflingly beautiful and brilliantly bizarre record. - Americana UK

" - Folk Art - Depend on This"

It’s three years since Minnikin released Folk Art, a simple bucolic affair as homespun as the hessian pouch in which it was packaged. Anyone expecting more of the same, should take a breath now.

Again working with her bandwagon of brother Gabe, Brian Murray, Dave Christensen and Anna Plaskett, here joined by guitarist Craig Buckley, its musical palette is still formed from roots, country, 40s music hall, jazz and bluegrass but here she’s painting the same pictures on two very different canvases.

Taking two years to make and necessitating the addition of a male vocal choir and a wide selection of additional instruments that include woodwinds, organ, brass, dulcimer and pedal steel, it treats on the different perspectives people have on death (basically melancholic and less so) over the course of six songs. However, it then does a literal double take and revisits the same six songs in entirely different synth-laced arrangements. So, for example, The Theme Song I lollopingly sways along with parping brass whereas The Theme Song II comes with a slower tempo, fluttering flutes and the lyrics removed to leave just the ahh ahhing backing vocals.

Likewise, the first Animals Of Breman dapples its fingers lazily in the banjo sunshine while what sounds like woodchucks trill in the background and warm brass rays and steel glimmer behind her. The second is a far more orchestral affair of synthesised strings, computer effects, bass lines and discordance, the lyrics again reduced to repeated phrases.

Whether you prefer the original coy Sleeping And Dreaming with its R and B spine and sha la las or the click track, bass throbbing version with its electronic effects, or favour the flute shaped, clacking crackling colours of the reinvented title track over its lullabying predecessor with its jaunty vaudeville sing song vibe is all going to be down to personal musical preferences. I’d have to cast my vote for the lazy, drunken brass and tempo lurching Louisiana sway of Finale I over the swarm of buzzing electronic bees that hover over Finale II, but it’s an accomplishment that, even when the tunes take on radically different creative forms, they always retain the core spirit and sense of life affirmation that makes this such an intriguing, challenging and ultimately mesmerising listen.

Folk Art - 2007

The third solo release by the Canadian singer-songwriter and sometime member of The Guthries and Heavy Blinkers, maintains her DIY cottage industry ethos, coming with hand written card insert and packaged in a hessian pouch. Recorded in just two days, and mixed in one, with accompaniment from brother Gabriel, Brian Murray, Dave Christensen and Anna Plaskett, it also maintains the homespun bucolic innocence of the music, her pure plaintive McGarrigles-esque voice designed to inspire folk in backwoods churches or greet mountain sunrises and end of harvest dusks.

The galumphing instrumental Bad Dreams that top and tail the album set the carnival in a playground swaying musical mood, carried through with burping French horn, theramin and clarinet adding distinctive colours to the banjo and guitars that provide the songs bedrock. There is a couple of other instrumentals here, the brief banjo plucked Christmas Riff which calls to mind the lazy ambience of Simon & Garfunkels Feeling Groovy and the self-descriptively titled Instrumental Breakdown, a wonderfully naive upright piano tinkling tune that could have come from some silent movie comedy.

Inevitably though, its the songs that harbour the best delights. Angel of the Dawn is 1914 (or possibly 1917) war poem by James Lyons from Manchester originally recorded for an as yet unreleased tribute album featuring settings of his poems by such names as Willard Grant Conspiracy and I Am Kloot. It subsequently surfaced on line as part of a Sweet Relief charity project alongside a fuller sounding version of Southern Misfortune, an aching lullaby written during the New Orleans floods.

This countrys only got so much country, she sings on Chicken Cooped Up In Country Music a wonderful blend of vaudeville 40s folk and doo wop that, along with the arm-linking swayer Admirable Admiral, serves to remind how well her witty wordplay serves to carry serious themes.

As with the trot along Nanny Jones, where she duets with Gabriel and sings lines about rain, arguments and a fade out of my life experience is death experience my death experience is life experience, or the gentle plinketty bluegrass Song Mills hearing the gears turn, hearing the fear burn... mmm mind your head, mmm mind your ps and qs, 1s and 2s, you might not always quite know what she is singing about, but listening to her sing it is a joy everyone should know at some time in their life. - Mike Davies

"Depend on This"

So even though Ruths solo work was strongly rooted in the realm of folk, it is not surprising she refuses to sit still. The first half of her new record - Depend on This - hits me the way the same way Jets To Brazils Perfecting Loneliness did. Even with the strides and fleshed out sound the band made, it was the perfect summation to Blakes evolution from the early days of Jawbreaker to his more mellow, melodic stylings under the JTB moniker. For Ruth and her friends, the tracks still dabble in the country, down home sounds we have come to expect, but she fuses that traditional feel with the lush orchestration and quirkiness you could find on a Blinkers effort.

Orchestral horns blasts and group vocals stand on equal footing as steel guitar and. Tracks like Theme Song and Sleeping and Dreaming expose Ruths more playful side, where as Four Churches moves into the chamber pop realm and Animals of Bremen is about as traditional as Ruth gets this time out, but the meticulously arrangements she constructs help weave the songs together in a warm, multicolored quilt. Perhaps the standout is the blissful title track that uses terrific horns and steel during the verses before exploding into a sing-along chorus.

Even if this effort was a simple, six-song EP you would feel satisfied after each listen, but what really stands out is the progression in sound she made for this record. The b-side of Depend on This will shock even her oldest fans as it finds Ruth exploring an end of the evening vibe thanks to her ambient, atmospheric collaborations with Dreamspolitations Chuck Blazevic. She revisits each of the themes and titles of the A-side of the record in a completely new fashion, transforming each in a way that inspires and challenges the listener, but never loses them.

The flute that makes an appearance on Theme Song II and the hand claps and heavy plucked bass line of Sleeping and Dreaming II peak your interest, but the echo-y horns and computer effects on the later are what really takes you into a more magical, dream like swirl. The first few tracks on the second side are shocking and enjoyable, but the effort peaks on Four Churches II. The smooth horns, hand clap beat and rapid fire synth all dance around terrific vocals, swooning strings and and terrific, long bended guitar notes and really demonstrates how effortless Ruth could find a home in this new style. She follows up with the click clack, flute filled Depend on This II, a track that never moves past a brisk shuffle but spikes the record with energy and emotion.

Amazingly, even with all Chucks electro flourishes she still manages to hold true to the spirit and soul of the original versions. Animals of Bremen II still feels traditional - especially when the piano ends the track - even though it's filled with computer effects and a heavier bass line. I will be honest. This is not the record I expected from Ruth, but I am not complaining. The funny thing is, just when you think you know where Ruth is going to reside, she shifts and her next record could be recorded in a farmhouse, a disco, on a bus or with Symphony Nova Scotia playing behind her. That is the great thing about a creative spirit. You never know where it is going or where it will end up, but you know the risks will end up in rewards for the us all... it just might take us a few months to catch up. - Hero Hill

"5 Stars - Pick of The Month - Depend on This"

This is the first time we have heard from Canadas Ruth Minnikin. Wow...we are instantly impressed. Recorded with seventeen magical musicians, twenty three integral instruments, a mens vocal choir, three pop producers, one sound artists, and a handful of visual artists, one would expect Depend On This to be an overproduced pile of mush. But instead, the exact opposite is true. This album features wonderfully intricate, involved compositions with the primary focal point being Minnikins cool soothing vocals. As far as comparisons go...this music sounds something like a cross between St. Vincent and Stereolab...without actually sounding very much like either...? Hard to describe and/or compare this one. But we immediately decided this had to be a TOP PICK for this month because Ruth is treading in some absolutely fantastic territory here. GREAT STUFF...!!! - Baby Sue - TN, USA

"Marooned and Blue"

Ruth Minnikins smooth, laidback voice has always been the highlight of any project she is involved with, from her high school band Booming Airplanes, to Halifax alt-country faves the Guthries and as a current member of the breathtaking Heavy Blinkers...Minnikin proves her prowess as a songwriter...always a compelling vocalist. - Exclaim! Tara Thorne

"Exclaim! - Depend on This"

Enlisting the help of her Bandwagon and two producers with very distinct styles, Minnikin has materialized the symphonic opus of her imagination into a split personality record. In contrast to her 2006 solo release, Folk Art, a rootsy, no-frills album recorded and mixed in three days, Depend on This took more than two years to bring to light, requiring an ensemble of musicians and instruments, as well as a men's vocal choir, to reach its full potential. Described by the Nova Scotian as "a conceptually dramatized exaggeration of an avant-garde jalapeno pepper on a life raft" and later as "a concept album highlighting people's different perspectives about death," it's impossible to pin down the album's raison d'être without experiencing it firsthand.

Six tracks parade before the listener, ranging in style from bluegrass to country to cha-cha, then return as reincarnated versions of themselves. The synth-laden and bass-spiked metamorphosis, courtesy of producer Chuck Blazevic (Dreamsploitation), makes the second half of Depend on This conspicuously stirring. Brimming with vitality and talent, Ruth Minnikin lends an unorthodox charm to the life raft that carries her adventurous followers through bright tunnels of light and into the unknown. (Songmill) - Nereida Fernandes

"4 Stars - Now Magazine - Depend on This"

Old fans might find Ruth Minnikin’s new album uncomfortably strange. Best known for her alt-country leanings – in work with the Guthries and her earlier solo efforts – the Halifax native stretches herself into experimental, orchestral pop territory that’s a little closer to her other former band, the Heavy Blinkers.

The album is split into two halves, with the six songs in its first half artfully reinterpreted in its second, using different musicians (17 in total), orchestration (23 instruments, plus a men’s choir) and producers (three). Waltzing tempos, European folk flavours and baroque arrangements eventually give way to sputtering electronic beats, cerebral, looping vocal lines and dark minimalism.

The constant is Minnikin’s effortless alto, as casual and unpretentious as ever, though here it reaches high into its upper register with results as impressive as this bold new direction. - Carla Gillis

"8/10 - Depend on This"

Bold and inventive release from the multifaceted Canadian songwriter

A veteran of both cult chamber-poppers The Heavy Blinkers and late, lamented alt-country outfit The Guthries, Ruth Minnikin clearly has a broad and restless vision. Thus, whilst her previous solo album Folk Art; was full of sparse, acoustic vignettes, Depend On This is a much more adventurous affair. To an extent it builds on the orchestral sympathies of her work with The Heavy Blinkers, but it is arguably far more experimental in its instrumental palate, making extensive use of seventeen musicians and twenty three instruments ranging from the bass clarinet to the hammered dulcimer.

It is also, quite deliberately, an album of two halves. It could even be regarded as an EP featuring two distinct sides, the second being composed entirely of alternative versions of the first. However, it would be unfair to dismiss this arrangement as self-indulgent or superfluous, and perhaps it would be more appropriate to think of the two sides as variations on a theme rather than competing attempts at the same song. The two distinct sections employ separate producers and it is a lucid example of just how much production can bring to a song, as the two manage to find quite different perspectives on the same tracks.

The first half is more straightforwardly skewed towards chamber-pop but whilst the baroque arrangements definitely create a lavish and ornate atmosphere, they are never cloying. Instead, they provide an intricate counterpoint to Minnikin’s richly melodic progressions. The variety of tonal colour is particularly refreshing, lending a recognisable character to each song, and sometimes even within sections of the same song. It is also clear that Minnikin has not lost her fondness for oom-pah horns, whilst hints of her folkier side can be heard in the banjo and pedal steel guitar which dust the title track.

The second side is more minimalist, adding electronic textures whilst the orchestration grows more subtle but does not disappear entirely, now preferring staccato eruptions and hypnotic repetition to create a dreamy effect. These are definitely thematic explorations of their earlier incarnations rather than mere duplicates, so Theme Song II focuses primarily on the wordless chorus whilst Four Churches loses the klezmer touches of the original for an ambient drift. Such radical new perspectives emphasise Ruth Minnikin’s determination not to be tied down. The result of which is a sophisticated and rewarding work. - Americana UK - Kai Roberts

"The Minnikins' Photo Album"

As a musician and graduate of NSCADs photography program, Halifax-based artist Ruth Minnikin had always been looking for ways to combine the two fields of study into one project. But it was not until the death of a loved one that she finally realized her two artistic passions with The Minnikins Photo Album, a 7-song EP. - The Coast

"Herohill Music Blog - The Minnikins' Photo Album"

Washed in sepia tones; images faded and cracked Ruth sings in the spirit of tradition and lineage. - Bryan Acker

"Folk Album of the Week - The Minnikins' Photo Album"

Superb effort here. There is a soft and pure quality to Minnikins vocals. - New Canadian Music

"9/10 - The Minnikins' Photo Album"

This is a pure, honest, no frills album that is both genuine and utterly beautiful. - Americana UK

"4 Stars - The Minnikins' Photo Album"

On Letters For You, Minnikin delivers one of her most beautiful vocal performances yet. - Now Magazine

"The Minnikins' Photo Album Review"

Compelling and fascinating, like those interrupted dreams you can not quite remember, but wish so much you could. - Bob Mersereau CBC

"The Globe and Mail - 4/4 Stars - Picks of the Year"

As gracious and inviting album as I have ever heard. - Brad Wheeler


High demand for Ruth's unique voice has found her featured on over 60 recordings!!

1995 Booming Airplanes - The Boundless Sky - singer
1996 Booming Airplanes - Yarn - singer/songwriter
1998 The Heavy Blinkers - Hooray For Everything - singer
2000 The Heavy Blinkers - The Heavy Blinkers - singer
2000 The Guthries - Off Windmill - singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
2001 Joel Plaskett - Down at the Khyber - singer
2001 Hopeful Monster - self titled-guest - singer
2001 The Heavy Blinkers - Better Weather - singer
2002 The Havenots EP (UK) - singer, accordion, mandolin
2002 Paul Bellini - Disco album - singer
2002 The Guthries - self titled - singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
2003 Ruth Minnikin - Live EP - singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
2003 Heavy Blinkers -Papa Nez - Tribute to Michael Nesmith - international release - singer
2003 Heavy Blinkers - Split single with Orwell (FR) - singer
2004 The Heavy Blinkers - The Night And I Are Still So Young - singer
2004 Gabriel Minnikin - Hard Feelings - singer, accordion, mandolin
2004 Jason Haywood - Nothing Stays the Same - singer, accordion
2004 Reels - EP - singer
2004 The Hurtin' Unit - accordion
2004 Ruth Minnikin - Marooned and Blue - singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
2005 Dale Murray - Brighter Lives, Darker Side - singer/songwriter
2005 Kate Maki - The Sun Will Find Us - singer, accordion
2005 The Life and Times of Guy Terrifico - soundtrack to film - singer
2005 KTB (UK) - Bluebird - singer
2005 James Lyons Compilation (UK) - singer/songwriter
2005 Mid-Winter Night's Dream - singer/songwriter
2005 Jonathan Andrews - Halifax Indie Rock - singer
2005 Norma Macdonald - singer, accordion
2005 Old Man Luedecke - Hinderland - singer
2005 Mid-Autumn Night's Dream - singer/songwriter
2005 Gabe Minnikin - singer, accordion
2006 The Hylozoists - la fin du monde - singer
2006 The Divorcees - singer
2006 Ruth Minnikin - Folk Art- singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist
2006 Johnny Stevens - singer, accordion
2007 Orwell (France) - le genie humain- singer
2007 Gabriel Minnikin (UK) - singer, keys
2007 Reels - Autumn Country - bass, singer, keys, percussion
2007 Tribute Album to The Inbreds - contributed - accordion, singer
2007 Adam Puddington - organ, accordion, singer
2008 The Russian Futurists (ON) - guest vocalist
2008 Tribute Album to Thrush Hermit - contributed song
2009 Kelly Sloan - accordion
2009 Rich Aucoin - guest singer
2009 Eric's Trip Tribute - contributed song
2009 Helen Creighton tribute album
2009 Savoury - accordion, singer
2009 Jason Haywood - accordion, singer
2009 Atlantic Voices - Rhino - contributed song
2009 Sloan Tribute - contributed song
2009 Zunior Christmas Album - contributed song
2010 Gabriel Minnikin - guest singer, accordion, percussion
2010 Andrew watt and the Glory Glory - guest singer
2010 Ruth Minnikin and her bandwagon - Depend on This
2011 Molly Thomason - Beauty Queen - accordion, singer
2011 Elevator Tribute - contributed song
2011 Norma MacDonald - guest singer
2011 Klarka Weinwerm - guest singer
2011 The Deadly Hearts - Hammond organ, percussion, singer
2011 A Reason for Hope - Benefit CD
2012 Pecan Pie Compilation (Spain) - Tribute to Eek
2012 Ruth Minnikin - The Minnikins' Photo Album

solo albums
2012 Ruth Minnikin - The Minnikins' Photo Album
2010 Ruth Minnikin and her bandwagon - Depend on This
2006 Ruth Minnikin - Folk Art
2004 Ruth Minnikin - Marooned and Blue
2003 Ruth Minnikin - EP



Ruth Minnikin - The Minnikins Photo Album

I release The Minnikins Photo Album to my family, music lovers, writers, DJs, artists and concept builders.

The first inkling of The Photo Album was born back in twenty-ten, when I made the decision to initiate an ancestral archive of stories taken from photographs, letters and songs. For a year of Thursdays I visited with my Nana (her mother is on the album cover) and we reminisced and sang hymns at her piano.

Keeping with familiarity and tradition, I summonsed my brother Gabriel and sister Amy to share their talents alongside my closest friends and musical family (The Guthries, The Heavy Blinkers and The Echo Chamber).

Undeniably my heart was swollen as I wrote, but I daydream that my next bout of inspiration comes from love, salt water and the children I will teach on Jeju Island over the next year. Or, the waves on The East China Sea may swell into sounds of longing and heartache for Canada, the Atlantic Ocean and its folks (just like the time I moved to England). But thats a different bio entirely.

The Minnikins Photo Album, recorded and assembled, will magically appear just in time to mouth the words goodbye for now.

With her slightly off-kilter delivery, soft vocals and minor key melodies, were never quite in the present. The feeling is more like looking at an old snapshot of mysterious people with a story we only get a bit of. But its compelling, fascinating, like these interrupted dreams you cant quite remember, but wish so much you could. Bob Mersereau, CBC

Minnikins rustic lilt wraps itself around the songs like a beloved old afghan knit by your grandmother. Stephen Cooke, The Chronicle Herald, NS

History fueled music, wrapped in denim. Its in the genes.

2010 - Depend on This - 'Electronic Album of the Year'!

It's uber-calculated conclusion spans the Atlantic Ocean and unites seventeen magical musicians, twenty-three integral instruments, a men's vocal choir, three pop producers, one sound artist, and a handful of visual artists.

"Wow, we are instantly impressed. This album features wonderfully intricate, involved compositions with the primary focal point being Minnikin's cool soothing vocals. We immediately decided this had to be a TOP PICK for this month because Ruth is treading in some absolutely fantastic territory here. GREAT STUFF!!!"
Baby Sue - TN, USA - 5 stars

"Its an accomplishment that, even when the tunes take on radically different creative forms, they always retain the core spirit and sense of life affirmation that makes this such an intriguing, challenging and ultimately mesmerising listen.

"Conspicuously stirring, brimming with vitality and talent, Ruth Minnikin lends an unorthodox charm to the life raft that carries her adventurous followers through bright tunnels of light and into the unknown."
Exclaim! - Toronto

"Just when you think you know where Ruth is going to reside, she shifts and her next record could be recorded in a farmhouse, a disco, on a bus or with Symphony Nova Scotia playing behind her. That's the great thing about a creative spirit. You never know where it's going or where it will end up, but you know the risks will end up in rewards for the us all... it just might take us a few months to catch up."
Hero Hill - Halifax, NS

On her acclaimed 2006 release 'Folk Art', Ruth Minnikin stuck to the essentials. Contained in a hand-sewn, ink-stamped canvas case, the album's packaging reflected the music within. Rootsy, bare and without pretension, 'Folk Art' offered eleven tracks from an artist with her focus set on the songs and the live-recording process.

Minnikin's varied and accomplished musical history has surely helped hone this kind of concentration. Her first band, Booming Airplanes, was signed to EMI during the Halifax pop explosion of the 90s. Her chamber-pop side project, The Heavy Blinkers developed a cult following all over the world, and at the turn of the millennium, Ruth made two albums and toured the UK and the US with alt-country quintet, The Guthries.