Uncut (magazine) - p.983 stars out of 5
-- "The music is all honky-tonk and country blues, with oodles of weepy steel, but it's her voice that startles..."
Of the early female honky tonk singers, Texas Ruby had one of the lowest, if not the lowest, voices of all of them. This compilation has 24 of her tracks, some of them co-credited to her fiddler husband Curly Fox. Sadly, the annotation offers nothing in the way of original recording and release dates for this fairly obscure artist, whose career continued for more than two decades after she first recorded in the 1930s. An educated guess puts these specific recordings as likely originating from the '50s, the earliest perhaps dating from the late '40s, as the tracks have simple arrangements with fidelity that nonetheless indicate that almost all of them certainly post-date World War II. There's not much in the way of writing credits, either, but as much as the packaging works against as detailed a review as one would like, the most important thing to note is that the music is quite fine and forthright. Capturing a time in country's evolution when hillbilly was crossing into honky tonk, Ruby's unusual voice refrains from spilling over into emotion that's too uninhibited, yet maintains a delivery more spontaneous than those of many of the singers that followed her with more polished recordings in a similar style. Some tracks boast more modern touches, like the growling twang that opens "Love Me Now"; the trills that echo early Patsy Cline on "Big Silver Tears"; the catchy shuffle of "Shanty Street," and the gritty electric guitar on some of the more uptempo numbers, like "I'll Take Back All I've Said About You" and "Have You Got Someone Else on the String." This is notable music by a relatively overlooked talent that deserves better documentation, but at least we have a lot of her quality recordings to enjoy on this 61-minute compilation. ~ Richie Unterberger