Ragged Union “Lay My Ghost to Rest” (Independent, 2018)

This EP rocks. Ragged Union are a five-piece band from Bristol; these guys have been around for years as members of various bands, and one thing’s for sure – they know how to play their instruments. The proceedings get underway with a bang: ‘Lay To Rest’ is pretty much straight-ahead, hard-ass country rock. The sound, like the others on this EP, is very full, brimming with electric guitar and driving bass, punctuated by a heavy backbeat. A fine guitar solo makes the track even better.

All six songs on this EP are originals – well, five songs, actually. Track six is the radio edit of track five, ‘Another Lover,’ the only difference being that in the radio edit the f-word is replaced by the sound ‘fffff’. On their website, the band describes its music as “Half a pound of country, 3 cups of rock and roll and half-a-pinch of soul,” which is pretty on the mark. If it’s subtlety you’re after, this EP offers precious little. But if you want to rock out, you’ve come to the right place.

The songwriting is fine, if not exceptional. In its publicity material, the band describes its sound as similar to Tom Petty, Blackberry Smoke and The Georgia Satellites – southern rockers, all. But that cuts both ways. On the one hand, those are excellent bands from which to draw inspiration. On the other hand, the music does feel a bit derivative; a dash more originality wouldn’t have hurt.

‘Here For You’ is ever-so-slightly mellower than the other tracks, but still full and rockin’. The singer sees the pain in his lover’s eyes. “I want to lift you up when you’re feeling down,” he sings. And in ‘Days Like These,’ a harmonica wailing above the mix adds spice to the sound. “Days like these gonna last forever, long after the summer’s gone,” the vocalist sings.

One can imagine this band setting a crowd on fire. But if you’ve got plenty of southern rock in your collection, this EP might not add that much. Still, the musicianship is stellar, the music rocks, and it’s a fun CD to put on any old time.

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