You Started It All, the new single from Ragz Nordset, is released this week and initially I was in two minds about reviewing it. The Liverpool Acoustic remit is to support local performers of acoustic music, and this track falls down on both counts. Not only is Ragz no longer a local lass having recently moved down the road to a new life in That London, the new release takes her on a new musical road – destination: electronica.
However, Ragz has been such an integral part of the Liverpool music family for so many years that I felt I owed her a review. In addition, we like to keep Liverpool Acoustic’s ‘acoustic’ remit as broad as possible, and as the song features piano and acoustic guitar we were presented with another convenient reason/excuse (delete as appropriate!) for reviewing it.
I said in an album review last year how much I appreciate it when musicians challenge themselves by trying new things. There’s nothing more boring than someone’s fourth album sounding almost identical to their first. So I was intrigued when I listened to the start of You Started It All for the first time because it’s so very different from what we’re used to from Ragz.
After pressing ‘play’ we’re treated to a slow build up of electronic sounds before an underlying, understated acoustic guitar is introduced. It’s not until the 57 second mark that Ragz’s unmistakable vocals start and we know we’re in safe hands. Produced, recorded and mixed by Mario Leal for NuNorthernSoul, this song is a glorious mix of modern and traditional, with layers of synths and programming meshing perfectly with acoustic guitar, piano, viola and vocals.
As a fan of experimental electro outfit Azoora, I was instantly hooked by what I heard. Azoora describe themselves as a ‘collaboration of tastes between the band members, a mix of attitudes and a reflection of what can be achieved if you are willing to experiment outside of the norm’, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. Ragz’s new musical direction and sound won’t be to everyone’s taste, but that’s the risk you take when you try something so radically different from what’s gone before. And this is just so good that I’m confident Ragz will gain far more new fans than she’ll ever lose.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I really, really like it. Personally, I know I’ve found a winner when I’ve reached the end of a song and (a) I haven’t realized how long it was (six minutes), and (b) I want to go back and listen to it all over again. I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the EP when it’s released.
You Started It All is the opening track of the Sleepdancing EP, designed specifically as a ‘story to tell’. To this end, in addition to the standard digital release it’s also being made available on 10” clear vinyl with two tracks segueing into each other on the A Side and two on the B Side.
Graham Holland is the owner and editor of the Liverpool Acoustic website, and runs Liverpool Acoustic’s award-winning live music events with local musician Stuart Todd. In real life he’s a Web Development Officer, has been producing podcasts on a regular basis since July 2006, and runs a number of websites for other organisations. He lives in Wavertree with his husband and their cat Xiao Hei.