Best Regards & Less Of The Same
Clyde Records/Stark Haven Records, 2010
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/28/2010
The apple may not fall far from the tree, but once in awhile it rolls a bit.
Suzi Ragsdale is the product of a musical family. Her father, Harold Ray Ragsdale, is better known as Ray Stevens, who is best remembered for his comedy and tongue-in-cheek songs. Such hits as “Ahab The Arab,” “Harry The Hairy Ape,” “Guitarzan,” “I Need Your Help Barry Manilow,” and “The Streak” all graced the American pop charts throughout the ‘70s. Who can forget his chicken-clucking hit “In The Mood,” which reached the top forty in 1979?
Every once in awhile, though, Stevens would release a serious song, which brings us to “Everything Is Beautiful.” It topped the United States pop charts for two weeks in April of 1970, and the children’s’ chorus at the beginning of the song features the debut of his daughter Suzi.
Suzi Ragsdale is now over three decades into her career. While she has not been as prolific in the studio herself, she has appeared on over fifty albums as a backup singer. Releases by Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Tom Paxton, Ian Tyson, Guy Clark, Hank Williams Jr. and many more have all used her vocal skills.
Ragsdale has now released a double-disc entitled Best Regards & More Of The Same. However, each disc contains only six tracks and could have easily been combined onto one. On the others hand, the music on each is unique, and splitting them was probably for the best stylistically.
Best Regards is the stronger of the two releases. Ragsdale authored all six of the songs and quickly proves that she is a songwriter of note. Her skill as a lyricist is very good and they fit the structures of the songs well. Her vocals have a bluesy feel, in addition to an excellent tone and clarity. “Wake Up” and “Two On A Tightrope” are both catchy pop/blues tunes. The acoustic-driven “Chorus Girl” paints wonderful lyrical pictures.
Meanwhile, Less Of The Same gathers together some of her older compositions. These songs are a more eclectic group and do not have the cohesiveness of the other set. The first song, “Full Light,” is the only song which she did not write, but it is the album’s best track. It is a catchy country song with some superior mandolin playing. “My One And Only Valentine” and “Pay Attention” are about love and loss.
Suzi Ragsdale has issued a fine album that not only highlights her vocal skills, but also her ability to combine those vocals with a variety of instruments to create a memorable and creative sound. Hopefully, she will spend more time in the studio on her own, as this release provides an excellent example of her skills.