To call me a Chuck Ragan fan, you’d pretty much have to stretch the limits of elasticity of the word to it’s breaking point. A couple of years ago, while my friends were buzzing like meth heads about an upcoming Chuck Ragan show, I’d never even heard of the man. Their references to Hot Water Music also fell on deaf ears, as I’d never heard of them either. Then, as the initial Revival Tour was announced, I looked into the album Feast or Famine only to find myself underwhelmed and that’s why I’m as surprised as anyone else to be making the following statement.
I can not find a single fault with Chuck Ragan’s newest effort, Gold Country. Since it’s release, Gold Country has been one of my favorite cds on my iPod, and my attachment to it seems to be growing with every listen. The improvement from Feast or Famine to Gold Country is not something to be glossed over. Feast or Famine, to me, felt like the standard punk frontman putting out his obligatory folk album, as was the rage those days, but Gold Country is something else all together. Gold Country is, at is core, a country album. There are still some punk ethos bubbling through lyrically, but even this is cast in a much more mature light. Now I’m not gonna pretend to know anything about Chuck Ragan, but you can tell he spent some time working on these songs and the result is a instrument-heavy, passionate album that should make everyone (non-fans like myself included) sit up and take notice.
So I guess this bears the question, am I now a Chuck Ragan fan? For now I’ll just say I am a Gold Country fan. It’s a great album, possibly my favorite this year. There something about its passion that keeps pulling me back in and it certainly seems to be standing the test of time and the constant onslaught of new music that my ears endure. I guess that if the growth seen from Feast or Famine to the Austin Lucas collaboration, Bristle Ridge, to Gold Country continues, then the answer, quite simply, will be yes. There will be plenty of time for those conversations in years to come, though. For now, let’s just enjoy the fuck out of this album.