In May of last year, vocalist Sarah Poole left a full-time teaching job behind to focus entirely on music. A year later, her band Ember City will release its debut album.

Over the past six years, Poole has performed in and around Savannah regularly. She’s been part of several songwriter series and festivals, as well as become a regular in the clubs, backed by other local musicians or playing solo. Guitarist Ryan Taito joined her band and the couple, now married, began pushing into playing more rock music. Ember City was conceived by the two as a rock cover band playing a variety of tunes from Metallica to Weezer. Then they began writing music together.

The band’s debut album, “Invisible Ruler,” is an eight-track, all-original album rooted in the hard rock traditions of Thin Lizzy, AC/DC with stout influence from the '90s grunge of Hole, Nirvana and Babes in Toyland.


“To this day, Nirvana is like one of my all-time favorite bands,” Poole said. “The whole grunge thing was always in there. It was kind of full circle from pop to rock. I was like, let’s just do rock. We put a band together and did the cover thing for a year and a half. Then we were like, let’s write some music.”

Poole’s sultry yet powerful vocals front the band, while Taito’s blazing and thick riffs guide the arrangements. They’ve had a couple of changes in the rhythm section since forming. Although the album was recorded with drummer Michelle Anthony, who left to tour with Super bob, Statesboro musicians Matt Frison (drums) and Avery Willis (bass) hold down the rhythm section now.

“The way we wrote the album was so different,” Poole said. “All of the old projects, I wrote everything on my guitar. I would hire session musicians to beef it up on the spot. With this one, Ryan is a much better guitar player than I am, obviously. I grew up playing folk chords and he was shredding Metallica.

“I was like, you write cool guitar stuff, and I’ll write the melody and everything else over it. He’s done a lot of mapping out of this. He had ideas for the bass part and the drums and shared those ideas with the guys. I am the face of the band, but he’s the mastermind. I am doing the business; he’s laying the foundation for the music. It’s been fun to write with him. It makes it really exciting.”

Recorded at Hybrid Audio Solutions in Charleston, the tracks on “Invisible Ruler” were put together as a concept album dealing with anxiety. The opening track, “Monster,” was the first song they wrote for the new album. Opening with a two-tone, fuzzed-out rolling riff from Taito, Poole comes blazing in with as much power as the guitar.

“It’s based on different manifestations of anxiety,” Poole said. “Social anxiety, depression anxiety. The constant voice in your head. Each song has its own focus. The whole album is about that. That’s what the [album] art is about. It’s a manifestation, a very scribbly, sporadic feeling.”

Poole pays tribute to a personal hero in the album’s penultimate track, “Shine.”

“It’s about suicide,” Poole said. “I wrote that song when Chris Cornell killed himself. We literally saw him in concert a month and a half before he killed himself. For a while, I couldn’t listen to him. It made me very sad.”


For the album release show, Ember City will play The Jinx for the first time, with Dylan Swinson and Lilakk. They’ll have copies of the CD on hand, T-shirts and free can koozies.

Despite just celebrating their debut album, Poole is ready to get back to her favorite aspect of the new project.

“It’s been really fun writing with the band,” Poole said. “We’re releasing this and I am like, 'Let’s get back into the studio and write some more stuff!'”