Jazz Vocalist Nancy Sanchez Crosses Over With Release of 'Ruby In L.A'

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Wiant @ SOLID Productions
There's more to Nancy Sanchez than just jazz. Anyone who has seen her monthly performances at Steamers in Fullerton knows her proclivity for busting out original acoustic songs in the middle of her set. So most of her fans are probably surprised to hear those tunes are now the core of Sanchez's full-length debut, Ruby In L.A. Though switching from jazz standards to a slickly produced, pop-flavored album seems a major stylistic change, it actually indicates a return to the past for the OC songstress.

"I started off as a [pop] songwriter," Sanchez says, as she finishes up her day gig of teaching guitar. "When I first started playing guitar, songwriting just came more natural to me. It wasn't until later on I discovered other avenues of music like jazz. Right now, I feel these songs have been with me for so long that they just need to have a life and be out!"

Even the album title recalls the days before she sang in front of the red drapes of Steamers' stage. Sanchez's first foray into live music was as "Ruby" of Ruby Red, and later Ruby and the Bear Traps. As the title track tells, there was a romantic admirer of Sanchez back then who wrote a song about her called "Ruby" that he performed in LA cafés until coming to the heartbreaking realization that his love was unrequited.

Such tales largely frame the new album. "To me, music is therapy," Sanchez says between sips of port wine. "I've allowed myself to write about my personal life. I'm hoping that whoever is going through the same thing in any of the songs can heal and find comfort in them."

She strikes a range of emotions, from the bluntness of "The Breakup Song" to the wondrously poetic "I Surrender." When asked which is the most personal, Sanchez responds with "In Blue," the album's first single. "When I wrote it, I was in this melancholic space. I wanted this person to be el hombre de mis sueños," she says. "At that point, he couldn't give me what I wanted him to offer me." The strums are hypnotic, lulling the listener into the double meaning of the song. It's just as much about a special blue dress as it is about the emotional color of her recollections.

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