Thursday, 22 September 2011

No Middle Ground: Chuck Ragan Goes Again

Chuck Ragan sounds less burdened these days.

The erstwhile singer of influential latter day punks Hot Water Music, Ragan has a history of dark, tempestuous music. Carrying this troubled spirit through to his early solo outings evidently proved a natural continuation, with songs like 'The Boat' and 'Hearts of Stones' simply bleeding catharsis. Indeed, this is exactly the quality, fuelled by that distinctive, gravel-throated vocal,  that made 2007's 'Feast Or Famine' such a must listen, for me.

On newest album 'Covering Ground', it feels as though the iconic singer is now finding in his music more solace than struggle. From opener 'Nothing Left To Prove' to 'Right As Rain', there are nods throughout to a simple satisfaction and a more accepting world view.

  Chuck Ragan - Nothing Left To Prove

Even with a greater harmony to his songs, Ragan carries a power that few can match with only a voice and acoustic guitar to call upon. In many ways it's actually refreshing to hear him reflecting on life more positively, contrasting vibrantly with the greyer days that apparently came before. Whichever end of the spectrum your tastes tend towards, Chuck's is a vocal that delivers the emotion with intensity and a weight of experience that makes his sentiments all the more vivid.

Chuck Ragan by SideOneDummy

If forced to choose personally, the bleak reflection of his earlier songs probably still carry the day for me. But his canon grows ever larger and, with time, these newer gems may well wrest the darker elements of his sound from my preference. Should you wish to make such a decision based on a live performance, check out the man's tour page to see if the exciting line-up of the Revival Tour (Europe and North America) is rolling through your area any time soon. 

No comments: