Not content with releasing three long players in as many years with London based Role Models, 2018 sees Rich Ragany branch out into solo album territory. Ably backed with a cast that includes one-time UK Sub Ricky McGuire and Gaff (The Glitterati / Dedwardians), on paper the promise is enticing. So, what do we get from the Canadian power popper turned troubadour? The answer is something quite astonishing.
Like We’ll Never Make It is transatlantic heartland rock; Springsteen dipped ever so slightly in punk rock roots. The term singer/songwriter is used at free will these days with images of whimsical John Lewis adverts. This is not the high street at Christmas. This is the real deal. To the Sea softy brings in the heart on your sleeve rock ‘n’ roll with echoes of Ryan Adams. That World ups the feels and by Ragany’s own press sheet admission – “Fuck regrets.” It’s sound advice. Musically, there’s many a dreamy guitar jangle throughout the album; think Johnny Marr caught in a blender with Cyril Jordan. If you complete the potion with lush chorus background vocals (see Your Distance) and held organ keys (on the title track), it’s a winning combination.
Even with laid back arrangements, this LP is sprinkled with positivity. Sure, there’s plenty of looking back, but for the most parts it’s a nod to a brighter future. “I’ve never felt more alive” sings Ragany on Lose With Me. If there was an album tagline, then that’s it right there, folks.
It’s to the barroom for Scotty Thompson with a Faces shuffle before lyrics that champion the soon to be bold. “All my regrets burn like a cigarette” is the opening call. Yep, another PMA exercise from the Digressions. The final furlong of Story Highway and Heart’s Souvenir gentle rattle the brain before Later Than It Is saunters in with rich country influenced harmonies. Easy closes the show with an acoustic parting shot from the the most honest of hips.
People may expect Role Models Mach II and if that be the case you won’t be disappointed as Like We’ll Never Make It seems like a natural progression from the stunning Obituary Writer that graced last year’s Dance Moves LP. On the other hand, it’s totally fresh and new if taken from a stand alone point of view. Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t get more genuine than this. This is the life affirming gospel according to Rags. Buy it. Ginge Knievil
Keep up to date with Rich Ragany and the Digressions here