Saturday, September 17, 2011

Album Review: Covering Ground

Title: Covering Ground (Amazon, iTunes, Interpunk, SideOneDummy Records)

The best album that I've heard this year that wasn't released in 2011 is without a doubt Chuck Ragan's 2009 Gold Country, an absolutely perfect alt country/folk punk record. Anytime an artist releases a stellar album, following it up can be a challenge. Chuck Ragan has certainly risen to the occasion with his third solo record Covering Ground.

Thematically, Covering Ground deals with issues of traveling, touring, and growing. Sonically the album is very simple (acoustic guitar, standup bass, fiddle, and harmonica) with Ragan's gruff, gravelly and often heart wrenching vocals (along with some excellent background vocals by Oklahoma's own Audra Mae). This simplified approach is more in line with Ragan's live performances than on his two previous records (based on what I've seen on YouTube and on something he stated in an interview, but I can't remember where I read it).

Covering Ground is an excellent record.  It’s not quite as good as Gold Country, but is outstanding nonetheless and easily one of the best records of 2011.  Fans of Ragan’s solo material should be very pleased with Covering Ground.  My only hope is that Mr. Ragan sees fit to cover some ground in OKC while on the road supporting the new record.  

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