Settle down readers dim that light because old Rags is clearing his throat and with his newly assembled comrades he’s gonna take you on a journey along his story highway – so buckle up folks it’s gonna be the ride of your lives.
There are many things that puzzle me like how does gravity work? Why does the bread land butter side down and how the fuck Rags isn’t a household name in this God forsaken industry?
After knocking out three albums in three years with his beat combo Role Models he’s back in the room with this- something of a debut solo record Hell its got his name on the sleeve, of course, it’s a solo album. Songs that didn’t quite fit the Role Models remit but most certainly needed to be heard.
Had this record not been recorded then I’m sorry folks that would have been a travesty a tragedy even and I’m not for a second joking around. Once you get stuck into this album – time will be an irrelevance and you’ll have a bunch of your new favourite songs. You’re gonna laugh and maybe even wipe some of that stuff that falls from your eyes when watching Lassie because this is the work of a man and a band so on top of their game it’s nuts.
With something of a gentile opener ‘To The Sea’ is just a couple of guys playing acoustic and electric guitars as they harmonise you know the deal just like the good ones used to back in the day y’know those Don and Phil boys – that kinda deal. It does build but in keeping with the tempo and it never gets ahead of itself or reveals its hand too early as the key being able to hold everyone nicely in place as you the listener gets as comfortable as possible.
‘That World’ has some guitar breaks that wouldn’t sound out of place nestled in the best work of Peter Buck or Dave Pirner (I’m not even joking) with some fantastic twists like Johnny Marr always throws in his work but it’s all wrapped up nicely around a great Rags tale Take a bow Gaff you nail with such empathy.
I wouldn’t like to say that the album reaches an unassailable peak this early but ‘Your Distance’ is a stunning piece of writing from the intense lyrics to the playing of the band this is easily Rags finest three minutes and twenty-five seconds of songwriting and the backing vocals give me chills even after the one hundredth play. I might be accused of over-hyping records and I admit to getting carried away (who doesn’t? Isn’t that what music is supposed to do?). Trust me, I’ve had these songs in my possession for months and I promise you I simply can’t get enough of it and I make no apologies for ‘bigging’ it up or going overboard. when you have to say it like it is then just let it out so here it is guys consider this me letting it out!
The title track is a bright song that has Kit Swing on fire with her vocals and the arrangement lifts it ten feet tall as Rags holds his own and manages to raise a smile with some great lyrics. Feel free to punch the air rocky style once you put down the tennis racket after playing air guitar to Gaffs (Michael Gaffney) great solo.
Onto ‘Lose With Me’ what might well be seen as a distant relative to some 80’s /90’s Americana juggernauts like…Nah I’m not naming them this stands shoulder to shoulder with them. This is the sound of a band having an absolute blast working with some superb songs and running with it giving it everything they have and the final mix is the pay off as we all get to hear it.
To show that Rags can fish out a pair of glitter bellbottoms and paint his face like Marc did as ‘Scotty Thompson’ sounds like Mott The Hoople and Roxy Music stumbling in at sunrise with the keys to Elton’s Roller and having no idea how that happened.
Settle back down kids and pour yourself another glass because Rags has sat on the rocking chair and is opening up his big book of stories as ‘Story Highway’ unfolds and again you can feel your face resting into the smile because it’s another shade as his brush sweeps over yet more quality songwriting.
Me I might never measure up for that guitar-shaped swimming pool I was going to build but you know what? Give me a record as complete as this any day of the week. ‘Heart Souvenir’ has some great keyboards holding this one to book as Simon Maxwell, Andy Brook, Ricky McGuire, Gaff, and Kris Rodgers all play with great sympathy but without their deft touches and light and shade, something would be missing.
Say it quietly but Rags has surpassed himself here and these songs show that he has so much talent and such a great ear for a song and with a little help from his friends has written played and arranged the years finest album. Oh sure he also manages to sing his heart out as well and he’s most definitely taken his music to places he’s not been before and sounded accomplished and capable with songs that are rich in depth, feeling and above all quality. ol’ Rags has shone his light into corners of music that can often be dark and cold but not this. Warm- engaging – uplifting and without a doubt his finest work so far.
There’s still the upbeat ‘Later Than it Is’ to underline what’s gone before it and to add that confident exclamation mark before we ride off into the sunset happy to know that we are here and we get to hear this great music. It only leaves the squeezebox on ‘Easy’ to show that this is anything but, but in the hands of professionals, it certainly sounds it.
Be smug – Be happy – spread the word Rich Ragany & The Digressions have turned in one hell of an album that’ll inspire you and make you believe that great music is out there and you want some and this is the proof.
Hey Rags before you decide on where to go next let’s take …Like We’ll Never Make It… and get as many people as possible to jump on board and hear these songs because they deserve to be heard make no mistake about that.