Suzi Ragsdale – daughter of country star Ray
Stevens – is a singer/songwriter, performer, Yoga and cooking
student/instructor and Lord knows what else. She has a marvelous voice and a
funky style that informs the 12 bluesy/jazzy tracks with a country tinge on
this double CD release. There are only six songs on each disc so they’re pretty
lengthy. But they are consistently well arranged, orchestrated and. The only
hitch is Ragsdale’s Daily Planner approach to lyrics on the “Best Regards” disc. Sure, there are
about a million blues songs that start with “I woke up this morning” and some
of Bruce Springsteen’s early lyrics read like diary pages and that’s how
Ragsdale’s lyrics tend to run on “Best Regards“.
When they don’t, Ragsdale’s humor and intelligence and her passion (“Two On A Tightrope”)
show through. And sometimes, when the music is funky enough (“Wishbone”) you
can overlook the fragmentary nature of some of her narratives.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with the music
Suzi Ragsdale writes or the way it’s played. In fact there’s some exceptional
stuff from producer Tim Lauer on all kinds of instruments on both discs, particularly
percussion on “Wishbone” and drums, bass and guitar on ‘Wake Up!” on the “Best
Regards” disc. Those elements and Ragsdale’s strong expressive voice usually
make up for the loosely structured lyrics.
The other disc, “less of the same,” has more of a country flavor and is more
immediately satisfying than “Best Regards”. Starting out with the
Springsteen-ish (there he is again) “Fall Light”(written by Darrell Scott) and
moving into a beautiful country ballad original, “My One & Only Valentine” then
into the snaky rhythmic title cut, “less
of the same” benefits from being just that when compared to “Best Regards.”
It’s less indulgent and frankly, it’s more entertaining; “Troublemaker” the
duet with Rodney Crowell, is a real treat. There is every chance that “Best Regards” will grow on you and you
might want to have it on hand. But if you have to choose, “less of the same” Is the way to go.
Standout Tracks: “My One & Only
Valentine”; “Troublemaker” RICK ALLEN