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Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight Album Cover

Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight

Reviewed by
9.0
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight
Record Label: Side One Dummy
Release Date: March 25, 2014

Four albums into a much-lauded solo career, Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan continues to churn out masterful Americana music and if you need further proof, give yourself an hour and spend some time with Till Midnight.

Though many might argue otherwise, an album opener should be the creme de la creme, after all you only get one first impression. Ragan is fully cognizant of just that and puts his best foot forward on the rousing singalong “Something May Catch Fire,” a heartland rocker culled straight from the Springsteen playbook. Jon Gaunt’s triumphant fiddling and a hip-shaking chorus cement the track as one of Ragan’s best to date and serve as a sparkling start to an album that is worth many repeated listens.

On the heels of “Something May Catch Fire” the album vaults forward with the self-affirming and organ-fueled “Vagabond,” a song that any traveling musician can find kinship with. Never once does he apologize for his lifestyle but never once does he feel perfectly at ease with it either. That dichotomy is what makes Ragan so powerful. He understand the human condition, the artistic condition and the vagaries of being a songwriter as well as just about anyone currently making music. And it shows in spades on Till Midnight. Even when he hones in on sincerity and empathy, Ragan is still a punk rock pioneer who has armfuls of ragged energy, a trait he wears with gusto on the freewheeling “Non-Typical” and the punchy ditty “Revved.” Arguably one of the album’s strongest contributions is “Bedroll Lullaby,” a violin-and-harmonica-drenched anthem about wanderlust and chasing dreams that probably needs to become every high schooler’s graduation song.

One of the many charms of his albums is his throaty delivery and never on Till Midnight is it more magnetic than on the barreling singalongs “Gave My Heart Out” and “You and I Alone.” Those soaring heights also serve as the album’s last true rockers. Softly and simply, the album settles into a valley of placidity, beginning with the near-perfect “Wake With You,” a pedal steel-driven ballad that would find many on Music Row blushing. A punk pioneer is nothing without a song about social causes and Ragan does his due diligence on the matter with the punchy “Whistleblower’s Song,” arguably the song’s weakest effort but probably its most lyrically inspired. Till Midnight concludes with the open-hearted and brilliant “For All We Care,” an ageless and deeply mature musing about self-defiance, courage and the ability to move forward despite the circumstances.

Till Midnight’s many moments of brilliance are far from surprising. At this point in his career, Ragan knows exactly what to do and how to achieve it. He is in every sense of the word, the seasoned professional. Easily his best album to date, Till Midnight is a beacon of a record that will be looked at fondly come year’s end.

Recommended If You Like Springsteen, David Moore/Chamberlain; Mellancamp, Frank Turner


Tracklisting 1. Something May Catch Fire (3:52)
2. Vagabond (3:53)
3. Non Typical (4:10)
4. Revved (3:14)
5. Bedroll Lullaby (3:25)
6. Gave My Heart Out (3:06)
7. Wake With You (3:12)
8. You and I Alone (3:57)
9. Whistleblower’s Song (2:55)
10. For All We Care (4:39)

Produced by Chuck Ragan


The Players Jon Gaunt: fiddle
Joe Ginsberg: electric and upright bass, vocals
Todd Beene: pedal steel, electric guitar, percussion, vocals
David Hidalgo Jr: drums, vocals
Chuck Ragan: guitar, harmonica, piano, vocals
Rami Jaffee: organ, glockenspiel
Chris Thorn: lap steel, dobro, piano, guitar

Backing Vocals: Ben Nichols, Jenny O., Dave Hause, Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass


Find Him Here http://www.ChuckRagan.com
 
Displaying posts 1 - 9 of 9
07:47 PM on 04/27/14
#2
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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Checked this out last week for the first time. Really solid. Need to listen more.
05:29 AM on 04/28/14
#3
heyzombiehitler
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Still haven't listened to this yet but Feast and Famine is one of my favorite albums in the genre.
07:12 AM on 04/28/14
#4
WordsandMusic
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Chuck can do no wrong. Great review, I couldn't agree more. The cherry on top for me is his humility. The dude is HUGE in the indie/punk rock scene, and totally grateful.
07:52 AM on 04/28/14
#5
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Chuck can do no wrong. Great review, I couldn't agree more. The cherry on top for me is his humility. The dude is HUGE in the indie/punk rock scene, and totally grateful.
I seriously thought about mentioning that in the review, because I've clued in on that, too. In a music scene cluttered with pretense and narcissists, he's about as far away from any of that as anybody I know. He can do no wrong in my eyes.
12:35 PM on 04/28/14
#6
Lastnightintown
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Definitely one his best. I love the slide guitar on this one
12:37 PM on 04/28/14
#7
Lastnightintown
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I seriously thought about mentioning that in the review, because I've clued in on that, too. In a music scene cluttered with pretense and narcissists, he's about as far away from any of that as anybody I know. He can do no wrong in my eyes.
I agree totally about this album and the man. Just look at The Revival Tour. The dude just wants to bring music together and is so humble and bad ass I will buy everyone of his albums
07:22 AM on 04/29/14
#8
WordsandMusic
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I seriously thought about mentioning that in the review, because I've clued in on that, too. In a music scene cluttered with pretense and narcissists, he's about as far away from any of that as anybody I know. He can do no wrong in my eyes.
He gets it. Record sales, sold out tours, music videos on regular rotation, all these things are fleeting. Too many "rock stars" hang their hats on 15 minutes and have no substance behind it. Cudos to Mr. Ragan.
06:54 AM on 05/05/14
#9
derekjd
Mr.DRM
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I haven't listened to any of his stuff, but this sounds right in line with my taste. Should I start with this record, or go through earlier albums?

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