Up first on this split record is Rocky Votolato. It’s standard country singer stuff here. Misery, travelling, broken relationships, travelling, things falling apart and travelling. It’s absolutely bang on the trend of the last few years of punk-type people doing country, usually on the Sunday at Fest when everyone’s heads are thumping from responsible drinking and way too many hi-fives.
It’s really nice and everything, it sounds good and it’s so blisteringly working class that Springsteen would at least download this. I’m struggling though, to find a real stand-out reason to spin the Rocky side of this EP ever again. By the same token I cannot find a single millisecond to slam on it, it’s just not something that grabs my interest.
The sound is country, the work is really good, but I just felt that I was waiting for the songs to kick in right the way to the end. There’s no criticism contained in this really, just, it ain’t for me. I’d direct fans of the Decemberists, Tim Barry and Great Lake Swimmers to this, but not many other folks I know. If I had to criticise at all, I’d just want a huskier voice for this kind of stuff.
Once you get onto the Chuck Ragan side of this you instantly see the difference between these two performers. Chuck’s voice is its usual caramely gravelly joy to hear. On offer here is basically a return to the form of Gold Country. Actually, it sounds pretty much the same as Gold Country. Everything’s there, all the parts are on point, but I’m not feeling it this time around.
Chuck doesn’t seem to have moved very far forward in the six years since Gold Country at all. I still like it – I guess I’ve changed a lot – but this is basically 20 minutes of moaning again. Don’t take me wrong, I love moaning and I really love Chuck Ragan, but where’s the spark? Where’s the spirit of A Flight And A Crash? Where’s the urgency of any of this? I can’t find it and it’s making me sad.
As usual, the quality of everything is on point and the tunes are really good. Unlike the Votolato side of this EP there is a stand out track in ‘Vagabond’ and there’s a bit more of a structure to the tunes. I just wish it was 2012 so I’d love it as much as I know I will in another three or four years.
I recommend this EP to any fans of either artist, if you want more of the same, perfect, if not, you’ll feel like this is one of their old favourites when you come back to them in a few months or years.
– Andy Blyth