Even if you’ve never heard of RuthAnne — the wickedly talented songwriter who relocated to Los Angeles from Dublin at age 17 to pursue a career in music — it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve heard her work, since she’s penned hits for and with the likes of Niall Horan (“Slow Hands”), Britney Spears (“Work Bitch”), Martin Garrix (“In the Name of Love”) and her current tour buddies Thirdstory. The first song she wrote for a major pop artist? “Too Little, Too Late,” a top five Billboard Hot 100 hit for JoJo back in 2006.
Now, RuthAnne is ready to tell her own story through her upcoming debut solo album, and she just dropped the passionate lead single “The Vow” on Friday.
“My vibe is soulful, substance pop,” RuthAnne tells Billboard. “I love hip-hop and R&B, but I also love folk songs…so I feel like my music is a fusion of all those different things.”
Although RuthAnne’s songwriting catalog is stacked with well-known tracks, it took time for her to refine her personal sound and the messages she wanted to convey as a solo artist.
“I think it was easier for me to tell other artists’ stories at first and not be as vulnerable,” she explains. “When I started living in L.A. — an Irish girl in L.A. — I got fucked up by a lot of guys here. I all of a sudden had a lot of stories to tell, and I realized that these were stories only I could tell. There’s a sound that I feel like at the moment, there’s not a lot of females doing, and I wanted to kind of bring it back.”
RuthAnne blends pop music with some surprisingly eclectic influences. She takes a great deal of inspiration from female soul artists like Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill, but also subtly incorporates signature Celtic elements — including hymn-like harmonies — that pay homage to her homeland. However, she faced some difficulty when it came to entering the soul-pop genre she adores so much.
“I’m white and I’m Irish, so everybody was like, ‘You can’t sing soul, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you have to do pop and try to be a Britney Spears,'” RuthAnne recalls. “And I was like, ‘But I love soul.’ And then I saw Adele come out and Amy [Winehouse] come out, and honestly I think it was a journey that I needed to take.”
RuthAnne essentially wrote her album by accident about a year and a half ago uring a three-week vacation in London. What started as a venting session turned into a roundup of songs that her publisher deemed “a body of work.”
Releasing “The Vow” as the lead single, which highlights expressive, stirring vocals and a Celtic folk melody, was a deliberate choice that RuthAnne felt best embodied her as a singer. “I felt like it was just something different and a bit more of a statement to come out with,” she says.
“The Vow” was written with RuthAnne’s best male friend in mind, but also serves as an ode to any form of unconditional love, whether it be romantic or not.
“I was thinking about my parents who have been married for 43 years,” she says. “I was thinking about my best friend. I called it ‘The Vow’ because it’s what you’d hear at a wedding, or like best friends on this journey, or a mother to a daughter…Someone just saying ‘no matter what happens, I’m gonna love you.'”
RuthAnne plans to release a music video for the song next month with headlining tour dates in Europe and the U.S. to follow soon after.
Listen to her gripping debut single “The Vow” below.