With the bluesy Americana of his solo work, Chuck Ragan has established himself as a post-punk troubadour, with an emphasis on authenticity and storytelling that still makes space for solid arrangements and showcases the roster of top-shelf musicians he gathers together. 

In this case it’s his longstanding combo The Camaraderie, along with new drummer David Hidalgo, Jr. (formerly Social Distortion/Suicidal Tendencies) and backup from Dave Hause, Rami Jaffee, Jenny O. and Jon Snodgrass among others.

 

The songs on Till Midnight are imbued with a rawness carried on from Ragan’s punk foundation, with lyrical insights woven together into non-typical love songs. Opener ‘Something May Catch Fire’ is a cracker, the twinkling guitar-picking and anguished “She said lay down / We only have ’til midnight” lyric blowing out to a forceful shout-along chorus that’s catchy as hell. On ‘Vagabond’ Ragan’s asphalt rasp is Springsteen caught at the wrong end of a dodgy bar (in the best way). Single ‘Non Typical’ is a slow burn that Ragan’s voice sparks against like flint, crackling to life after the breakdown. ‘Wake With You’ has mournful pedal steel that honeys his rough-hewn vocals, and ‘Whistleblowers Song’ is hoarse and sweeping.

 

Till Midnight is a heaving heart laid bare, raw and triumphant.

 

4/5 Stars

Till Midnight is out now through SideOneDummy/Ten To Two.

 

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