Chuck Ragan

Covering Ground

Written by: PP on 20/11/2011 06:31:37

For those not in the know, Chuck Ragan is one of the two iconic singers for the seminal gravelly punk/post-hardcore band Hot Water Music. Their activity has dwindled to a few shows per year as of late, which has left plenty of time for Ragan to pursue a solo career. He's done so for two album's worth already before this one, "Covering Ground", to varying degrees of success. Out of all three, however, "Covering Ground" is his weakest release so far, and the next couple of paragraphs will outline why.

One thing Chuck has going for him is his voice. His raw, gruff voice radiates warmth and down-to-earth feeling naturally, making it perfect for those late night acoustic guitar sessions around the campfire during warm autumn nights. And together with said acoustic guitar Ragan's voice forms the reason why people should care about his folksy singer-songwriter pieces. You can tell he has spent two decades fronting a punk band from the melodic undertones each song has, but with the strong inclusion of violin and harmonica, the folk element is growing ever larger with each release, pushing him towards what people sometimes refer to as 'alt country'.

Previously, this resulted in songs that were decidedly folk but carried over the catchy nature of punk rock in a perfect halfway meeting point of both. Songs like "Glory" and "Rotterdam" were as sing alongable as they were impressive lyrically and in terms of melody, but only one or two such songs exist on "Covering Ground".

For the majority of the time, Ragan roars, whispers, and sings his way through violin and harmonica embedded alt country tunes. Granted, it's not much different from his previous release, but the songs are less interesting and more forgettable. Plenty a listening session has passed by where "Covering Ground" has been reduced to mere background music because it didn't maintain my interest on a high enough level. That doesn't need to mean it's a bad record, though. If you're wondering how acoustic folk can sound from a punk rock angle, Chuck Ragan and "Covering Ground" is still your best bet. It's just a far cry from 2009's fantastic "Gold Country".

Download: Nothing Left To Prove, You Get What You Give
For the fans of: How Water Music, Attack In Black, Dave Hause, Tim Barry, Brian Fallon
Listen: Soundcloud

Release date 12.09.2011

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