ODE by Ragged Rebel City
To be released on October 4th, 2017.
Ragged Rebel City – ‘Ode’
It was all about the river … and that permeating solitude.
Stephen Hodd took his studio equipment from London to a cottage on the banks of the River Deben in March 2016 just as spring broke the cold ground. With the handful of songs written during the 3 years of recent fatherhood (penned during stolen late night hours and candle lit 4 A.M.’s) he settled in to the cosy confines of the riverside. The hours were long. The loneliness sometimes maddening. The river was a welcome retreat with its evolving watercolour moods along the miles of secluded pathways.
The overriding necessity was to capture the essence of the songs and to throw sonic paint at the canvas in an attempt to embellish the themes and emotional content within the songs. Themes of love and soulful fragility, of solitude and need for acceptance, of having had enough and standing firm no matter what the cost.. That the ocean and the river feature quite heavily in the lyrics of Ode is no surprise given the proximity to maritime activity and viking invasions.
Ragged Rebel City – painting a picture of urban decay, of nature taking back the city; harvesters of the fertile ground between acoustic song and ragged, unpolished, experimental, yet truthful sonic treatment – became the moniker of Stephen’s new existence. It is from here that the path forwards can be re-imagined. Where no fear of sonic experimentation nor cowering from melodic persuasion need exist. ‘Ode’ is the first step along the new path and a fine statement of intent. It is unapologetic, sincere, of the essence of a live performance, far from the sonic ‘perfection’ so often favoured in the current musical climate.
The intimacy that pervades the 8 tracks on ‘Ode’ surely stems from the composition of the songs during those moments while his young son slept quietly in the room next door. There is a delicacy to the guitar playing, to the singing, even to the lo-fi, mono recorded drums that were played with a brush. All is quietly realised; but for the layers of vocals, stacked upon each other in roomy ambience as they convey emotional synergy as the songs evolve. The initial voice & guitar tracks take centre stage and capture the essential live performance as it is; without separating the elements. The creaks and knocks personifying the fragility and intimate feeling of the album. The backing vocals and guitars were often recorded as live takes with a mic set up in one corner of the cottage and a reclining performance belted out from afar. This all adds to the adds to the blurriness of the elements; painting a picture of a man in the midst of a creative blur.
‘Ode’ is a an unabashed tribute to heartfelt emotion. A voyage from the roar of the river, to the heights of the mountainside and back to the sea.