Chuck Ragan
Covering Ground


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Allen USER (12 Reviews)
September 17th, 2011 | 47 replies | 10,750 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hot Water Music front man releases his third and most affecting record yet

6 of 7 thought this review was well written

There is something ultimately gratifying when certain musicians strike the balance between musicianship and pure poignancy, in order to craft that landmark record that the artist had set out to attain since their sonic inception. Even greater, is when musicianship can be bypassed for potent lyrics and full-fledged passion; saying what needs to be said without any showy to distract us from the focal point. It is a simplicity that has boded so well for the likes of punk artists Frank Turner and Chris McCaughan (Sundowner) among others, who have gone on to feature outstanding solo careers. In some cases, the artist finds himself even more proficient solo than in his respective band, proving that the transition is a rather natural one. With that said, Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music fame should be strongly considered for that latter category, as Covering Ground is the defining record of his solo stint.

While the aforementioned statement generally indicates a fresh and dissimilar direction from the artist’s previous works, Covering Ground doesn’t reveal anything about Ragan that was not demonstrated in his debut and sophomore release. Rather, Ragan’s third solo album is a mastery of his stripped-down Americana. With only strings, occasional backing vocals, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar to cultivate with, Ragan is howling his way through his most potent collection of songs yet; providing more than enough vigor with his vocals alone. Abrasive, passionate, and undoubtedly distinct, Ragan’s vocals are truly the record’s greatest asset. Keeping this in mind, Ragan’s influence in front of the mic is a hell of a lot more effective than anything he had done with Hot Water Music, here with minimal distractions to deflect the attention away from him. Yet, when additional vocalists are implemented at certain points in the record, Covering Ground conveys that anthemic quality that is so often sought out in an Americana release. The most notable of these occurrences is within “Meet You in the Middle,” which is highlighted by Brian Fallon’s guest appearance. Trading off lines, Fallon and Ragan exhibit tremendous chemistry in “Meet You in the Middle,” the penultimate track establishing itself as one of the more infectious piece’s in Ragan’s arsenal.

Whether Ragan’s solo work will supersede his efforts with Hot Water Music is too early to tell, but with Covering Ground the Hot Water Music front man is making a serious case for his relatively new direction to continue. Bold, anthemic, and poignant, Covering Ground captures the folk-punk resonance that was so affecting on both Feast or Famine and Gold Country and enhances it. Furthermore, Ragan’s third release indicates just how intoxicating his material can be, even with nominal instrumentation.



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user ratings (60)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
mallen-
September 18th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh, hello there

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 18th 2011



48524 Comments


Nice avatar

Digging: More Than Life - What's Left Of Me

wabbit
September 18th 2011



6742 Comments


bastard beat me.


posed/ welcome back

mallen-
September 18th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

so obsessed with that album right now

wabbit
September 18th 2011



6742 Comments


also I need to check this man's work out.

mallen-
September 18th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

yes you do, any of the three are good starting points



mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2011



17911 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2011



7008 Comments


You is long time I no see.

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

MO
September 18th 2011



17341 Comments


Nice review. Run it by Hans...he loves americana.

Digging: Soundtrack - Turok 2: Seeds of Evil OST

mallen-
September 18th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

very true Irving


nice rating chan

wabbit
September 18th 2011



6742 Comments


2011 is pretty much without a doubt the best year for singer/songwriters ever

mallen-
September 18th 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice review. Run it by Hans...he loves americana


definitely planning on that...haha

aok
September 18th 2011



4165 Comments


too drunk to read right now, but bookmarked for later (edit: folk-punk eh? cool cool)

CrisStyles
September 18th 2011



766 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great to see a Mike Allen review, I would probably like this album.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2011



7008 Comments


Glad to see your skills haven't diminished in the slightest though ;) Here's hoping your next stay here is a bit longer than last time around. =)

mitch91
September 18th 2011



408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Completely agree with the review- the more 'stripped down' sound really enables the lyrics and vocals to shine. The only let down of the album is that Frank Turner's vocals are so low in the mix on 'Wish on the Moon' you can barely hear them.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 18th 2011



7226 Comments


Need to listen to this.

Jethro42
September 18th 2011



12028 Comments


Mike Allen is back. Nice to meet you, dude.

Mordecai.
September 18th 2011



8255 Comments


ok, so i want this and i hope it rules, but you are all gay cunts.

AggravatedYeti
September 18th 2011



7684 Comments


: )



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