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Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ragged Staff review- Kiss the Shore

You only get one chance to make a good first impression and generally speaking the first track of an album is the key indicator for a listener on whether or not they’ll enjoy the style of music put forward. This doesn’t always mean putting your strongest track first, but it certainly means putting a track that summarises your musical style and gives the audience a clear indication of what you are about.

Ragged Staff are another I got from a Fatea Showcase, ‘Magnetism’. Their introductory track from ‘Kiss the Shore’ is ‘The Blacksmith’ and this is also the track featured on Magnetism. Now this track does exactly the job these first tracks are supposed to do.

Ragged Staff are self described as Traditional and Contemporary Folk and ‘The Blacksmith hits us straight away with a mystical Traditional sound to immediately grasp hold of you and tie you down so that you listen. Next in this song a lovely set if vocals take over and sing a wonderful ballad about... well I’m sure you can guess. A lovely surprise in this track is about three quarters in when another powerful voice jumps in and takes you completely off guard.

There are of course a lot of bands that do traditional music and many may wonder if you can have too much of a good thing but I believe Ragged Staff have added another version of ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsies’ that just proves this isn’t the case. As well as the exciting music and great variety in sounds that just blast you in this second track the vocals of Caroline Riches and Ned Lawton really hit you with such enthusiasm that you could never get bored of the track.
It is also nice to see that though Ragged Staff’s style is generally fast paced, like ‘Keys of Canterbury’, foot stomping type folk they are not a one trick pony and you get nice varieties of pace even within songs such as ‘Rosebud in June’ and the wonderful ‘Si Bheag Si Mhor’.

Folk music is also of course a tool for storytelling and Ragged Staff have certainly captivated this element perfectly. If you listen to ‘The Nightingale’ and then ‘The Whaler/ The Wren Hornpipe’ then not only do these two tales flow into each other, but they are so completely different from the slow paced ‘Nightingale’ to the faster ‘Whaler’. Even the choice of changing from Caroline to Ned is a great decision as it really shifts the gear at this point in the album.
There are a lot of wonderful tracks on this album, a fine addition to any collection!


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