Rich Ragany & The Digressions – What We Do (To Not Let Go) – Review

I was worried that the windows were going to pop out as I played the album at full blast

Genre: Rock ‘n Roll

Label: BARREL AND SQUIDGER RECORDS

Released: Out Now 

Band Members: 

Rich Ragany (Role Models) , Vocals, acoustic \ electric guitars,

Gaff (Glitterati, Dedwardians, Desperate Measures, Hollywood Brats), 6 & 12 string electric guitars, vocals,

Ricky McGuire (UK SUBS, The Men They Couldn’t Hang), bass,

Simon Maxwell (Role Models, Yo Yos) , drums, percussion,

Kit Swing (Mallory Knox, Seven Days And Doesn’t Die), electric guitar, vocals,

Andy Brook (SHUSH), keyboards, accordion, additional guitar, vocals,

Track Listing:

01 – What We Do (To Not Let Go)
02 – You’re My Way Back Home
03 – How Much Of Me Is You
04 – One More For The Train
05 – Til I’m On My Feet Again 
06 – The End Of All Things
07 – Highgate Sun
08 – One Last Thing To Prove
09 – Pretty Breeze
10 – Shade Of Shameless
11 – Forever Ghosts
12 – Gravity
13 – Waiting
14 – Outro

Having watched the Digressions play numerous shows over the last year or two on the back of their wonderful ‘Beyond Nostalgia and Heartache’ album, it was with a real sense of excitement that I settled down to listen to the follow up What We Do (To Not Let Go)’. 

Opening with the title track, it’s like the sextet never went away. A natural progression from the previous album straight into the new one as if you were going back to your favourite diner and having your favourite meal off the menu all over again. It’s like sitting in your favourite booth, having the waitress come up to you and pouring your coffee and simply asking if you want ‘the usual honey?’ 

Now, that’s not to say that ‘the usual’ should be taken as being afraid to rattle the cages and mix things up a bit because on ‘What We Do (To Not Let Go)’, we have an album where everything is rattled so much at times, I was worried that the windows were going to pop out as I played the album at full blast (much to the neighbours delight I might add). I’m convinced the banging sound from next-door was indeed them bouncing around and dancing along to each track as their crockery shook and fell off the shelves – you’re welcome folks ! Any time. 

In terms of rattling, take the beautiful piano intro of ‘One Last Thing To Prove’ which, before you know it, explodes into the main song without a care in the world or indeed any consideration for the cup of tea I was holding when it burst from the speakers. It’s that approach that makes me love the music that Rich Ragany and the Digressions put together. It’s an opportunity to allow you to slip into your comfy shoes for a moment but it’s only ever a moment, before the band rightly acknowledge that too much comfort makes us soft and lazy so they turn us around, apply a Size 12 to the derriere and then throw us into the middle of a ruck as they turn the song up tenfold. 

‘Pretty Breeze’ does exactly that. After the intensity of ‘One Last Thing To Prove’, surely I’m allowed to stop, take a weight off, settle down again and relax? After all I’ve just pogoed around the room and so have the neighbours (I think). I guess it’s only fair that I give them a breather as well…. nope. ‘Pretty Breeze’ lulls me into a false sense of security before making me get up and bounce again. If this was being played in the 1980s on breakfast television, I’m convinced Mr Motivator would be using this music to get the nation to work out and get fit!

When we do get a moment to take a breath and truly chill out to some of the music on the album, it’s often when both Rich and Kit duet on the vocals and give us something very special indeed. Take ‘Forever Ghosts’, the harmonies on this are so smooth they should be patented and used as part of a recipe for a single malt whiskey. Similarly on ‘You’re My Way Back Home’, Kit’s vocal work alongside Rich’s paints such a glorious picture that it conjures up images of riding the rail network in the US, the slow train with the door wide open, just watching the world slowly go by with your closest friends. In this fast paced and overly stressful world, I think that journey might just be the thing we’re looking for.

With my mind firmly set in riding the rails, we’ve also got ‘One More For The Train’ which maintains that wonderful Americana feel, the sort of song that, if you listen to the lyrics too closely, will see you crying into a frothy beer in the local biker bar. It’s such a powerful song, you’d be surrounded by burly bikers offering a tissue and saying “It’s ok brother, we get it!”

Whilst the initial suggestion was that the album is like having your favourite meal in your booth in your favourite diner, the 14 tracks on offer present a varied menu that essentially contains all of your favourites that you’ve discovered over the years. The experience in the band, the diverse backgrounds and the bands that the various members have played with ensures that each of the six brings their own sense of style and musicianship to the mix. Like any great fantasy adventure or quest, you don’t defeat the dark lord with 6 identical characters, you need a mage, an elven archer, a barbarian and so on. And no, I’m not about to suggest who is who in the band as these days that lends itself to a whole other discussion and I usually end up on another course at work. 

Personal favourites, that burger with all of the toppings (and no gherkin or tomato thank you very much) include the haunting beautiful ‘The End Of All Things’ as well as the aforementioned intensity of ‘One Last Thing To Prove’. 

The album closes with ‘Waiting’ and then a one minute ‘Outro’, the latter of which feels like the band are just drifting off into the distance as Rich sighs “See You” as that slow moving Amtrak disappears into the sunset. 

How can an album be punk fuelled energy one minute, hug your friends and cry the next and close feeling like you’ve just had the best thing ever taken away from you? Have a listen and you’ll understand where I’m coming from. 

Score 10/10 

Reviewed by Adrian Hextall

Both Rich Ragany & The Digressions and another favourite of mine Star Circus will be playing gigs in March 2023, check out their socials and web pages for more info: 

https://starcircus.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/richraganyandthedigressions

 

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