With his emotional and gravel-coated bellow, vocalist/guitarist Chuck Ragan made a name for himself as one-fourth of the much-loved Gainesville post-hardcore outfit Hot Water Music before releasing his first solo album in 2007. Alongside friends Chris Wollard, Jason Black, and George Rebelo, Ragan formed Hot Water Music in the early ’90s. Through a slew of well-received albums for labels like No Idea, Doghouse, and Epitaph — and an incessant grassroots touring regime — the passionate crew turned itself into a highly respected and influential act on the underground scene. Outside of his main gig, Ragan also recorded two side albums with some friends, including the stripped-down rock of Rumbleseat and the punk-oriented Cro(w)s. In the spring of 2005, Hot Water Music went on an indefinite hiatus, largely spurred by Ragan’s desire to spend time outside of the band with his growing family. The group’s other members went on playing music together (soon forming the Draft), while Ragan concentrated on his home life and, eventually, writing some acoustic-based material.
Chuck Ragan’s bracing new release, Till Midnight, his forth solo effort once again confirms what the iconoclastic singer-songwriter’s fans have known all along: that he’s a deeply compelling songwriter and an effortlessly charismatic performer, as well as a true believer in music’s ability to illuminate and inspire.
Till Midnight’s ten typically impassioned new Ragan compositions embody the artist’s trademark mix of eloquent lyrical insight and catchy, forceful songcraft. The album’s formidable blend of head and heart is reflected on such new tunes as “Something May Catch Fire,” “Vagabond,” “Non Typical,” “Bedroll Lullaby” and “Wake With You,” on which Ragan applies his distinctively raspy voice and sharp melodic sensibility to vividly expressive tunes that reflect both his early grounding in traditional American music and his deep affinity for rock n’ roll.