The latest Chuck Ragan album Till Midnight is amazing from start to finish! Not only is it better than Covering Ground (and that’s a fantastic album) but Till Midnight will probably give Chuck some much deserved exposure in the country scene as well.
I’ll admit I didn’t get into Chuck’s earlier solo albums or listen to Hot Water Music too much but Covering Ground is the album that turned me into a Chuck Ragan fan. I just never really listened to his solo stuff or Hot Water Music all that much. With Covering Ground, it was around the time my musical tastes expanded and was listening to folk and Americana more. Seeing Chuck Ragan and his Revival Tour live certainly made me appreciate his music even more.
“Something May Catch Fire” is perhaps one of the best songs Chuck has ever written and it’s also one of the catchiest as well. As soon as that chorus kicks in, I feel like grabbing a cowboy hat and dancing around like an idiot. I guess I’ll get my chance next month when he plays in New York, but I seriously doubt I’ll ever wear a cowboy hat. “Nothing Left To Prove” started off Covering Ground and that ended up being my favorite song off that album and the same is for Till Midnight. It’s always the first tracks that stick with me.
Right after the opening track, “Vagabond” kicks in and I could definitely hear this one on a Country Western station (most likely on Sirius XM). I guess the same can be said for “Gave My Heart Out,” and “Wake With You”). This song is a great example of how much Chuck’s music has grown since the last album.
The last few albums felt like Chuck just making music with his buddies and he just so happened to record it. Till Midnight steps it up a few notches. The production of the album is top notch and something just sounds different with the band. It could be this is the first album with “The Camaraderie,” featuring Jon Gaunt, Joe Ginsberg, Todd Beene, David Hidalgo Jr., Rami Jaffee, and Christopher Thorn. Usual Revival Tour friends’ Dave Hause, Jenny O, Chad Price and Jon Snodgrass also make appearances. Besides Chuck’s rough vocals, the fiddle playing by Jon Gaunt and the pedal steel by Todd Beene stood out, especially in the songs “Bedroll Lullaby” and “You and I Alone.”
I’ve listened to this album a few times now and seriously think it’s the best album Chuck Ragan has done so far. I’ll always love Covering Ground but this album tops that easily. Chuck keeps itching forward towards Americana, Alt-country, Country Western, whatever you want to call it and it just seems right. Who would have thought all these punk musicians would have been playing Americana and folk music later in life? I’m not complaining, I’m loving it!
Bottom Line: Chuck Ragan’s best solo album to date!
Notable Tracks: Something May Catch Fire, Vagabond, Non-Typical, Bedroll Lullaby, Gave My Heart Out, You and I Alone