First off, the newest edition of Ingrid's Ruse has an edge that I never imagined would work, but does. The best analogy I can offer is a female-led Buffalo Springfield – they descend into very delicate musical valleys, then rise aggresively and head for the clouds. Ingrid's vocals possess way more authority than they did in the days when she was barely out of open mike nights. But she's matured overall.
With Ezra gone, and every position from the original combo changed over, she had to become a band leader instead of just a lead singer. But nothing about it feels forced. She worked a difficult room like a pro, and held her own with Josh Maccio's frenetic guitar solos. New bassist Cam McIntyre is settling in, and Seamus on drums is a force of nature.
It's a very different band – I can hardly imagine them doing "Carey," for example – but I like it a lot.
Can't say the same for Skunk Hollow, the room they were in Saturday. It's tiny, with horrible acoustics, and patrons who could care less about music. Right as the band was about to go on, two tables of four sat down right next to them, and I swear, every person at both tables was talking simulatenously. I looked around the bar for one person whose lips weren't wagging, and could fine none.
This hole in the wall has no business presenting talent in any form. I can't imagine a worse venue. Just because Vermont has banned smoking in restaurants doesn't mean Skunk Hollow isn't polluted. The food's not that great either, whatever their illustrious reputation. Go see Ingrid's Ruse at the Windham, where fans go FOR the music, not in spite of it.