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Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight (Album Review)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 Written by Heather McDaid

Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Chuck Ragan and his music is that it's not steeped in mystery; what you see is quite simply what you get. Never one to shy away from putting himself into his work, ‘Till Midnight’ continues down a path of tried and tested storytelling, with a few friends along for the ride.

Ragan has flitted seamlessly between the opposing worlds of Hot Water Music, the influential punk band he’s fronted for a couple of decades, and his more stripped back acoustic work in recent years, with ‘Till Midnight’ his first solo record since ‘Exister’ drew a line under Hot Water Music’s hiatus in 2012.

Something May Catch Fire lightly twinkles as an album opener and immediately highlights the main point of difference on ‘Till Midnight’: the instrumentation. With his bandmates - named the Camaraderie after the bond they have formed - Ragan has created a more fully realised album, a deeper work.

While the raw spark of his past albums remains a driving force, this more closely crafted style moves him a step forward musically, also keeping hold of his heart-on-sleeve mentality.

Vagabond, for example, is underpinned by sincere lyrical delivery, but offers a spotlight on the depth his band provides, with extended instrumentals only enhancing an already great song. Revved, Bedroll Lullaby and Gave Out My Heart also branch out into solid doses of Americana, capturing Ragan’s musical presence in the middle of the record.

His storytelling credentials, meanwhile, have never been called into question and that’s not about to change either. Strong tones of love and family are ever-presents in his work, and they resonate all the more here with guest spots from Dave Hause and Ben Nichols of Lucero, both veterans of Ragan’s collaborative Revival Tour.

'Till Midnight' reinforces the fact that Ragan’s albums are a string of small journeys tied together into one wholly enjoyable experience. From folky high points to some truly raw moments of brilliance, he is never less than impassioned and honest.

Chuck Ragan Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue May 27 2014 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Wed May 28 2014 - BRISTOL Thekla
Thu May 29 2014 - LONDON The Garage
Tue June 24 2014 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Wed June 25 2014 - MANCHESTER Manchester Gorilla
Thu June 26 2014 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club

Click here to compare & buy Chuck Ragan Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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