ALBUM REVIEW: JP Ruggieri Comes To Terms With Life & Love’s Challenges In ‘Gradually Descend Into Chaos’

Nashville-based songwriter JP Ruggieri channels his art into a symbol of resilience and determination.

If his name feels familiar, it’s probably because Ruggieri has been making waves in the Nashville music scene for years, garnering notoriety as a session musician alongside members of The Wood Brothers, Viktor Krauss, and Charlie Hunter to name a few. 

His sophomore album, Gradually Descend Into Chaos – which officially dropped March 10th – captures the ever-present feelings of love, loss, and uncertainty in Ruggieri’s own life. This album finds him working in harmony with producer Jano Rix (The Wood Brothers) over the course of 11 tracks as he explores the space between struggle and salvation.

Given its ominous name and foreboding track titles, the sounds of Gradually Descend Into Chaos are actually quite uplifting. It comes on the heels of a five-year battle with chronic pain, the end of a long term relationship, and the enduring struggles of living through the pandemic. It’s safe to say a gradual descent into chaos just about sums all that up.

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“Without The Sun”

“These eleven songs mostly came to me during a chaotic period of my life. I then recorded them a few years later when I was becoming obsessed with sound in a way that was completely new to me. Musically, this album represents coming to terms with various situations in my life. Production wise, this album represents a period of sonic exploration. The marriage of those two elements is what Gradually Descend Into Chaos is all about,” Ruggieri reflects. 

The album opens with “Kill A Smile,” a contemplative song about losing and finding yourself in the tumult of a relationship. Rix’s knack for rhythm shines under upbeat harmonies, as Ruggieri wonders aloud about his partner’s true intentions.

“Kill A Smile”

“Without The Sun,” written and performed with Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), has a slower start. But rather than descending into chaos, this singalong track builds into a spirited crescendo. Its laid-back, soulful sound serves as the vessel for Ruggieri’s reflection on his journey with chronic pain.

The penultimate track, “Prefer To Lose,” celebrates the art of defeat. “Some folks know how to win at every game / Me, I’ve mastered the art of throwing it all away,” he sings over swelling instrumentals. “Just like I’m happiest when I sing the blues / I guess somewhere deep inside I just prefer to lose.” It’s a deeply relatable confession of accepting the cards we’re dealt. It’s easy to run from our problems, but acknowledging that pattern is a step towards staying, fighting, and winning. 

At its core, this project is not so much an invitation to spiral down as it is a journey towards finding hope amidst the chaos. Ruggieri is currently finishing up his European tour, and we anticipate more to come from this talented songwriter.

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