Cynics & Saints

by Lara Ruggles

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about

After three and a half years of sweat, pain, tears and love - and even actual blood - Colorado singer/songwriter Lara Ruggles releasedOctober 2. Proof that good things come to those who wait, Cynics & Saints’ powerful vocals, lyrics as metaphorical as they are personal, and guitar-and-piano driven melodies take the listener on a journey that looks fearlessly into what it means to be willing to be broken; a reflection of the album’s creation.

After releasing the 2011 EP Out of an Eggshell Ruggles knew she was on the right path. It was the production and recording involvement of Steve Vidaic and Mike Yach at Immersive Records - a label that technically didn’t exist before Cynics & Saints’ conception – that brought this substantial project to fruition. Ruggles was confident that she had found the right partners for Cynics & Saints. However, working within the restraints of a limited budget often meant that the studio’s other paying clients had to come first. Multiple setbacks and unforeseen roadblocks (including Bruce Springsteen borrowing equipment that was needed to master the record) delayed the album's completion, testing Ruggles’ ability to keep the faith.

“I’m the kind of person who spent eight years training a wild horse,” she says, “but this still tested my patience beyond anything else I’ve ever done. A lot of the life lessons of this process have been about letting go.”

The album’s slow progression wasn’t the only challenge to Ruggles’ commitment. The never-ending struggle to pay the bills pulled time and energy away from the studio and at one point Ruggles could count 5 other day jobs but still relied on food stamps; while touring a car break-in resulted in the loss of her computer, entire wardrobe and a battered morale. During the peak of recording Ruggles was further tested when her long term relationship – the relationship the bulk of the record was inspired by – imploded in slow motion. “I’d go into the vocal booth with my fists clenched and sing whole songs that way,” she says.

Yet the 29-year-old musician continued to rally, with every shift in priorities serving the goal of making music her life. “Every time I try to do something else, music is all I can think about and everything I ache for,” says Ruggles. “It’s this healing force that makes us feel less alone and more okay with not being okay. I want to give that gift.” To further this goal, Ruggles started the Give:Voice Project, giving 10% of her on-tour sales to arts-related causes.

Cynics & Saints’, while it speaks to the universal, is also an accurate representation of where Ruggles finds herself both personally and musically; a self-professed cynic fighting not to be a cynic. “Sometimes you want to give up and the only thing you know how to do to cope with it all is write another song,” Ruggles tell us. “As soon as it's written all you want to do is sing it triumphantly for anyone who will listen. So you go out and book another tour and make another album. Because every time you try to give up, you write another song instead.”

Like any complete story, Cynics & Saints is filled with both fight and surrender. Its unflinchingly honest lyrics and immediately captivating melodies invite the listener to share in the ultimate strength of vulnerability… and to keep on singing.

credits

released October 2, 2015

Recorded at Immersive Studios in Boulder, CO.
Produced by Steven Vidaic, Mike Yach & Lara Ruggles.
Engineered & mixed by Mike Yach & Steven Vidaic.
Mastered by Jim Wilson Mastering.
Assistant Engineers: Charlie Fitz, Ben Van Horne, Ryan Hudson, Garth West, Megan Letts, Prescott Blackler

Album art by Brynn Ronning, jailhousearts.com
Jacket design by Julie Katz, kaleidadesign.com


All songs written by Lara Ruggles, except The Wrong Thing and Wind It Blows Bitter, written by Lara Ruggles & David Banas.

Musicians:
Lara Ruggles: Vocals, keys, guitars, accordion, percussion*
Steven Vidaic: keys, guitars, ukulele, accordion, percussion*, backing vocals
Mike Yach: guitars [slidey parts], percussion*, bass, harmonica, re-amping, noises, synth, backing vocals
Marc Dalio, Amy Shelley, Andy Weld: drums
Paul McDaniel, Eric Thorin, Owen Tharp: bass
Lesley Kernochan: musical saw, backing vocals
Sam Rae: cello, backing vocals
Phil Parker: cello
Bridget Law: violin
Prescott Blackler: trombone
Todd Edmonds: tuba
Megan Letts: backing vocals
Ben Van Horne: finger percussion

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about

Lara Ruggles Boulder, Colorado

After 3 1/2 years of sweat, pain, tears, love and actual blood, Lara Ruggles released Cynics & Saints on Immersive Records in October 2015.
FEMMusic: “…the most honest album I’ve heard since James Taylor or Joan Baez. Every single song exposes and elevates her.”
PopMatters: “…the 29-year-old combines Americana and lavish 1970s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter fare with the confidence of a master."
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Track Name: Secret Ingredient
I like to think of myself as the strong one
who never gets fazed by what life throws at me
I’ve got my goals and we’ve both got our freedom
I can solve my own problems independently
I’ve never felt there’s a skill I was lacking
no crater waiting to be filled by the guy
who rides up on a white horse ‘cause I’ve got my own horse
I don’t expect any guy to be able to ride, but

CHORUS:
Ooooooooh, when you’re gone I miss you
And oooooooooh, I get lonely with the [night/sheets] to myself
Ooooooooooh, you’re like fine wine and dark chocolate, the secret ingredient
That makes everything taste like it’s never spent time waiting on a grocery store shelf

Most of the time we’re like parallel interstates
We work side by side without saying a word
But I’ve made reservations for the space that your arms make
And my ears are on hold if you need to be heard
I’ve got plenty of reasons for living besides you
And rain’s got its reasons for filling the sky
If you think that I need you it’s not that I need blue skies
But they do add that sweet warmth to my life

CHORUS

(sung to chorus melody):
Yoooooooouuuuu are the rain that breaks a dry spell
I swear it’s yoooooouuuuuu that turns the spring green
And yooooooooouuuu are all the little things we don’t think to miss
Until we’ve experienced that oooooooooooh, that’s what makes life good

CHORUS
Track Name: Steady My Love
Mind over the sea
I’ll rein in the waves to bring you to me
My voice is a searchlight
I’ll sing you a song and rock you to sleep

Steady, steady my love
were you ready, ready for this much
no, but you tried to be and you’ve grown quite beautifully into it

When you were in pieces
I wrapped you up and carried you home
When you were in hiding
I took off your cloak and made your strength known

Steady, steady my love
were you ready, ready for this much
no, but you tried to be and you’ve grown quite beautifully into it

Bridge:
Now this sunrise is blinding me but I walk on
right to the edge
you said I had wings but I didn’t believe it
here comes the test

Steady, my love
Are you ready for this much
I’ll try so hard to be
it’ll fit beautifully when I’ve grown
Steady, steady my love
are you ready, ready for this much
I’ll try to be
I’ll try
Track Name: Small Is Beautiful
We are lazy in the living room
while the snow keeps coming down outside
it is cold in our house when you tell me
let’s take it one thing at a time
you say “I try to take care of you in the morning before me
‘cause I know you have a mind to worry”
and now I’m worried I don’t give enough back
that little love notes don’t pick up enough slack

Chorus:
but you say baby, small is beautiful
we all do what we can
and if all you do is stay with me
I’ll be a happy man

We don’t get a lot of quiet days like these
I forget to notice how it feels
everything is soft and white and drowned in silence
it’s like you and me are all that’s really here
I wrap my hands around warm cups of tea
your chin’s in your hand and you are thinking
I try to keep my guitar understated so you can finish what you’re doing

Chorus:
And baby, small is beautiful
we all do what we can
and if all you do is stay with me
you’ll be my only man
well ok, so small is beautiful
let’s shrink our whole lives down
we won’t need a way to tell the time
it’ll always be right now

Small is beautiful
Track Name: Fighting Time
I will build my cavalry to take down all your pride
and you will raise an army up to hit me from the inside

The strongest of our swords and shields will not protect us now
all our armor’s useless; where it cracks we know too well

and I’m torn
I want to go back
I want you to hold me like you did

Chorus:
But it’s fighting time and I need to see blood on the floor
either way, if it’s mine or yours
don’t you step back, it’s too late to ask what for
sink in your teeth, it’s fighting time

Leave your war horse stabled and I’ll keep my soldiers home
all you need is two small words to deal the final blow

and from here
right on the edge
can’t we go back to before I said

Chorus:
That it’s fighting time and I need to see blood on the floor
either way, if it’s mine or yours
don’t you step back, it’s too late to ask what for
sink in your teeth, it’s fighting time

Bridge:
My heart is frozen, inches from broken
if it finds yours, it’ll be worse
will you be waiting, if I can’t make it
telling me right through that door

Chorus:
It’s fighting time and I need to see blood on the floor
either way, if it’s mine or yours
don’t you step back, it’s too late to ask what for
sink in your teeth (2x)
It’s fighting time
Will you fight for me
Track Name: 2500 Years
Maybe I’m trying to be something I’m not
a girl who contains the world / someone who’s got a vast knowledge
of talking points stored in my head / to dispense commentary on why
we’ll all be dead in 25 years / maybe less, maybe more I would like to say
I’ve lived a successful story but who can confirm it if not for the cynics
and why am I still trying to prove I’m a winner to them

Oh-oh, oh, in 2500 years
Oh-oh, oh, in 2500 years
oh…..we won’t remember this

My job is not to know what I don’t know or pretend to be farther along
than I’ve grown but to soothe a few small wounds we all need to heal
to treat people well and to feel what I feel / and if that’s not enough for those
cynics and saints / I will offer it anyway even if it’s painful / hope is my choice
extra-strength medicine / and I still hope the good I believe in will win
but I know

Oh-oh, oh, in 2500 years
Oh-oh, oh, in 2500 years
oh…..we won’t remember this
Track Name: Never Not Broken
It is just as if the trees can sense the state line
and grow taller on the side where I belong
and if that is not enough to welcome me back
I am wanted by the arms that I call home
This endless road is haunted and it makes me feel so small

Take me in your arms
Tell me it’s alright
Tell me that the two of us will sleep soundly tonight
Say that’s all we need
convince me I am strong
and I will stand inside your words and let them hold me up
But I am never not broken by it all

We like to say that some things take a village
but the villages got swallowed by the towns
and our towns all have their dreams of bigger cities
so I guess that no-one’s never lonely now
All of my words are haunted by the fear I don’t belong

Take me in your arms and tell me it’s alright
Tell me that the two of us will sleep soundly tonight
Say that’s all we need
convince me I am strong
and I will stand inside your words and let them hold me up
But I am never not broken
never not broken
I am never not broken

Every moment (never not broken)
Every moment (never not broken)
Every moment (never not broken)
I will lay my body down and break again if it will help
and though I pick the pieces up I know I have more power here
on the ground
on the ground

But I will get back up
say that it’s alright
that I have faith the two of us will sleep soundly tonight
I’ll say that’s all we need
and that I know I’m strong
and I will stand inside those words and let them hold me up
But I will never not be broken by it all
Track Name: Moon In My Heart
I’ve been walkin’ around with the moon in my heart, the moon in my heart
it stretches out the space between my ribs and lights up the dark, lights up the dark part
and no-one’s able to discern but me that I’ve got the moon in my heart
and I keep it a secret, ‘cause no-one would believe it

People notice that I can’t stop smiling with the moon in my heart
where’ve you been, they ask suspiciously as if they can’t believe I took a walk in the park
They’ve all been acting like I must be hiding a stolen work of art
but no-one notices the missing moon when the sky gets dark

Doot-doot-do-doot-do, Do-do-do-do-do (3x)
Do-do-do-do-do

I keep hiding the brightness of the moon in my heart, the moon in my heart
I never meant to be the one to steal the moon from the dark, the moon from the dark
It came down all by itself and got comfortable there like we were never apart
I know soon I’ll probably have to give it back
but until then I won’t tell anybody that
I’ve been walking around with the moon in my heart

Doot-doot-do-doot-do, Do-do-do-do-do (3x)
Do-do-do-do-do
Doot-doot-do-doot-do, Do-do-do-do-do (3x)
Do-do-do-do-do
Do-do-do-do-do
Do-do-do-do-do
Track Name: The Wrong Thing
Always wanna sing about the ones that went bad
Find myself cryin’ for the worst ones I’ve had
I’m pulled over by the side of the road waiting on the rain to pass

Always wanna hear the words that you never said
a song that hasn’t played before is stuck in my head
I’m waiting for the day I wake up and find myself content with less

I’m always waiting for, I’m always waiting for the wrong thing
I’m always wanting more, I’m always waiting for the wrong thing

Always tryin’ to make it through and saying I’m fine
I catch myself hurrying through the good times
we’re standing at a fork in the road and it’s time to make up our minds

We’re always fighting for, we’re always fighting for the wrong thing
we’re always fighting for, we’re always wanting more of the wrong thing

You always said that if it came to this you’d stay until the fade-out
but you’re not staying
I keep believing in a love that's strong enough that it'll save us
but I'm still waiting

Always wanna dry my tears and move on too fast
Fool myself by thinking that the next one will last
but I’m pulled over by the side of the road waiting on the rain to pass
Track Name: The Dove
A dove made a home in my chest cavity
with a fast-beating heart and fluttering wings
and she hides from the world, scared of what she sees
and I keep it a secret that she could bring peace

A dove made a home, a home in my chest
and that bird’s got a secret she wants to forget
she’s been holding it long enough that it’s buried deep

she only sings out when nobody can hear
‘cause she doesn’t believe there’s nothing to fear
she’s seen lives ended over a dreamer’s speech

so don’t let courageous thoughts into your head
don’t you believe a single word they’ve said
keep it close to you, hold on, hold on, hold onto it

please, please, please let her be
she’ll wear a red letter for the times she’s let you down
just don’t expect her feathers to love the sky or leave the ground
please, please, please let her be

this dove’s made her mind up never to leave
she’s the song in my rib cage that I’ll never sing
‘cause this world’s just too much for her fragile wings

A dove made a home in my chest cavity
with a fast-beating heart and fluttering wings
and she hides from the world, scared of what she sees
and I keep it a secret that she could bring peace
Track Name: Wind It Blows Bitter
Leaving St. Louis / gonna head for the mountains I know
It’s been too long since I laid beside you
It’s been too long since I let you go

Winter’s still with me / like the breath of a whispered name
there’s a cold wind blowing, leaving bare roots showing
in the lights of the westbound train

Time’s a cold shoulder / turns its back on your plans
and that wind it blows bitter through these empty hands
blows bitter through these empty hands

When I cross the state line / I’ll be sealing this letter I’ll send
say a prayer for the lonely / these thoughts that still own me
say a prayer that I’ll see you again

Time’s a cold shoulder / turns its back on your plans
and that wind it blows bitter through these empty hands
blows bitter through these empty hands
Track Name: Just For Us
We raced the neighbors
her name the French word for dream
I floated above her back

Each new hill a promise
my legs swung loose on her belly
we galloped and climbed

We made it home
after dusk and the first stars winked
into being just for us
into being just for us
just for us