Safe & Sound
Two years removed from his success with Aisle Nine, Andrew Christopher Ruoti is back making music, this time with his first solo effort, "Safe and Sound," due out in stores and available online Oct. 31. Produced by the very talented Quanah Hicks, the new CD has something to offer everyone. With the urge to do something creative, as well as a little different, Ruoti convinced himself earlier this year that it was time to rustle up some tunes and start writing again. Despite a hectic work schedule as a full-time music teacher, in addition to his passion for meditation and learning more about the Buddhist religion, Ruoti has put together a solid effort with "Safe and Sound" and has a hit a homerun for all listeners, which now includes individuals from around the world. "With the internet, you can reach people anywhere at any time. It's amazing to think someone on the other side of the planet can be listening to your song and establishing a connection with you. That's why I decided to give this a shot," Ruoti said in a recent interview. "For me, that's a beautiful thing and I'm really excited about this album. Music is for everyone." The first song opens with an erie intro that soon dissolves into hope, like clouds vanishing in the sky. Dissonant intervals laid over chord progressions that shift from gloom to joy show the creative side of Ruoti's writing. Although a bit reminiscent of his days in Aisle Nine 'Dissolve' manages to show another dimension of Ruoti's music. The song shines light on his varied musical influences drawing on jazzy chords, danceable grooves and pop-rock hooks. From start to finish, 'Dissolve' grabs the listener in with strong lyrics and clever guitar work. The phrase "space.. The one thing that connects my heart to you... The only thing that leads me back to you" shows great tone and demonstrates Ruoti's strength as a writer. The song's close brings a nice surpise with Quanah offering vocals as the two voices work well together. Like "Dissolve," the next song is a familiar throwback to Aisle Nine. However, the musical arrangement in "Haven" is a bit more involved. Cleverly placed chord progressions give the facade of Ruoti shifting into different keys. Subtleties like this may challenge the listener at times but never make the music too difficult to digest. Ruoti lends his voice to some harmonies, and the song also features an instrumental close with producer Quanah Hicks on piano. To follow, the third song, 'Arcadia', explodes into the listener's ears. Ruoti's smooth shifts in time signatures coupled with Quanah's technical guitar work and off-time drumming make this song the most progressive of the bunch. An introspective song with a very inviting chorus, Arcadia is rooted in imagery and is a heartfelt plea to the listener. The phrase "collide with you" is not just symbolic, but direct. There's no mistaking the songwriter's message of inner love and he goes all out proving his point. As stated earlier, this album is about connection, hence the title of the fourth, hard-driving, heavy-hitting song. Like Arcadia, "Connected" is much more aggressive than the first two songs and even includes some perfectly placed guitar leads. As a chapter to this album, the song is part of an overall story that touches on contemplating cause and effect and striving to realize selflessness. Finally, the album concludes with an acoustic version of 'Arcadia'. This version let's the listener experience the song stripped down to it's bare bones and climaxes with a new outro. As 2008 approaches, Ruoti said he's planning on playing a few shows to showcase his new material. Some acoustic sets have come to mind as well as assembling a band to play the full on rock shows but he adds that nothing is yet set in stone. He's also mulling over the idea of organizing an Aisle Nine 10 year anniversary tour for 2008. 'I have a ton of musical ideas and it would be fun to get together with the old band members.', Ruoti stated. If one does happen, fans can be sure his father and trusted guitar mate Dan Ruoti Sr. will be in on things. From 1998 - 2005, Aisle Nine produced three albums and received considerable praise from fans and venues throughout the Hudson Valley region of New York State. -Paul Bello of Wallkill Valley Times.