Ruthie Collins Talks About ‘Cold Comfort +’ and the Story Behind “Hypocrite”

New York native Ruthie Collins hadn’t put out a full-length project since 2017. Her new LP, ‘Cold Comfort’ was released on April 6th, 2020. “I had been working on the record for years,” she tells us. “Some of those songs were actually seven years old. For so long, I just put everything into it, and then obviously, everything got canceled. Releasing a record at the beginning of a global pandemic, apparently, is not a great idea.” 

The ‘Cold Comfort’ era was redeemed at the beginning of this year with the deliverance of ‘Cold Comfort+,’ an extended version of the original album that featured four new songs. “It felt like it deserved a reboot. Sort of like a new life. I honestly think anyone who released anything within the last two years should get a redo if they want it.” she says while laughing. When her label, Curb Records, came to Collins planning new music, she knew right away she just wanted her already existing record to be revitalized. 

One of the new tracks is the stunning lead single, “Hypocrite.” Collins wrote the deeply vulnerable song that reads like an open wound in the spring of 2019 while living in her best friend’s driveway in her 1973 airstream trailer. “I honestly don’t remember why ‘Hypocrite’ came to me. I just remember starting the song, I’m so sad about this boy, about this relationship that was like crumbling in front of my face, and I didn’t want it to happen but I was tryin’ to be cool like, ya know, not lose my shit,” she explains speaking fast with unashamed honest. “I was just writing about how I was trying to keep it all together and pretend like I didn’t care when honestly I really, really did. I was so hurt and upset about it.” She texted her best friend, Natalie Stovall of country trio Runaway June, and asked her to come outside and they finished it together.

When the label picked it as the lead single for the re-release, Collins recalls how special it felt for her and Stovall’s friendship. They went to college together and have been tightly knit since. Stovall’s backing vocals also appear on the record. “It’s so special. It’s a lot easier to celebrate when you’re not only trying to celebrate yourself.” Hypocrite takes a special place in Collins’ heart, almost like she can’t quite stop thinking about it as she adds on, “I think it is a really good thematic bookmark for ‘Cold Comfort.’ It’s like we’re all walking around the earth right now pretending we’re okay and we’re not. It’s crazy out here.”

The single has also been sent to country radio which is huge for Collins. About seven years ago she went on a radio tour for her single, “Ramblin’ Man.” “To think about the fact that all I have been doing in my career for seven years now is fighting to get back to country radio, and it finally happened,” she exclaims with evident excitement. “You don’t get second chances in this town very often and if something doesn’t work, they’re over it and they move on to the next shiny thing. I just feel so lucky that we’ve been able to come around and release new music and go back out to radio. It’s a dream. I can’t wait.”

The new release contains “Unplugged” versions of pre-existing, originals that were on the first edition of ‘Cold Comfort.’ Collins went back to her home state of New York to quarantine with her mom on the farm she grew up on so that neither of them would have to be alone during the scary start of the pandemic. “I was there quite a few months longer than I thought I was gonna be. I tried to not think about how crazy the world was I just started learning technology and live-streaming and recording music and right around that time,” she tells The Nash News. Bob Harris, a radio host from the BBC in the U.K., arguably one of Collins’ biggest fans, asked her if she would make “quarantine versions” of some of her tracks. “I wasn’t near a recording studio, and was in a tiny town in New York, so I was like, ‘Well I guess I could just try.’ I recorded all of that on the farm at my mom’s house. It was a really cool experience.” She loved how they turned out so much that when it came down to adding new songs to the record, those were the ones deemed worthy of making it. 

“Hey Little Girl (Unplugged)” is totally different from the original with a piano instrumental as its base contrasting from the stark, upbeat bass line on the original. She also put subtle ‘80s synths in the background “Wish You Were Here (Unplugged)” giving it an eclectic impression.

Nothing screams ‘Cold Comfort’ more than the opener of the LP, “Joshua Tree” which was actually the last to get added to the finalized tracklist. “For me, that song really changed my life professionally and also personally. I wrote it about the love story, that maybe was, between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris,” Collins exclaims. She had never been to Joshua Tree when she first wrote the lyrics, but a few months later she found herself in LA and took the time to visit the national park. “It was like, oh, this is not enough time. This place is very special and magical and I don’t understand it at all but what is this place,” she states.

She ended up back in California a little while later and spent more time in Joshua Tree. In a strange turn of events, she had met a boy so the story, originally about a distant love story, had turned into a personal account as she says, “It kind of became about me.” She continues, “Then I went back to Joshua Tree to shoot the music video, and at that time that guy and I weren’t together anymore so then all of a sudden, Joshua Tree was like this heartbreak place.” She shot the music video in the room where Gram Parsons died which she describes as, “so spooky.” 

“Joshua Tree,” both the song and the place, has become the bedrock to the landscape and narrative of ‘Cold Comfort.’ “It’s just a weird, energetic place and it really affected me,” Collins explains. “That’s just kind of become the story of the record.”

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