The love song continues:
Though Heart and Soul has closed down, we still love music, so below are some recommendations for local bands,musicians and DJs you should look out for and reminicences about my musical experiences and mis spent youth, past and present.
Lots of love,
Ragz: Liverpool Love Song: Music for my life
LIVERPOOL LOVE SONG: MUSIC ESSENTIAL TO MY LIFE
What she plays:
My highly subjective and personal thoughts (Please forgive me if I misrepresent or misunderstand you):
Before I start I would like to apologise in advance for the many errors, misconceptions, mishearing and misrepresentations which are bound to have accumulated in a piece such as this, written by a novice lay person. These are purely my own, highly subjective views, so please forgive me for any unintentional slight or offence. I only ever write about the music I love, so please take the time to read or even better, go listen.
Though I have been to hear Ragz several times, sometimes band nights at venues such as the Zanzibar have found her fighting against lack of sound check, woolly PA and recalcitrant, fidgety audience .Though her arresting, pure, clear voice always rises to the challenge, winning the battle against an environment not ideally suited to appreciation of this remarkable talent, it can cost a modicum of the intense expression she injects into all her songs.
So, I have been glad of a more relaxed encounters at Studio 2, where she had free expression without the skirmish and again at The Leaf Cafe, where one of her usual line ups was supplemented by acoustic 'cello. Pared down or "glammed" up Ragz is a phenomenal force of nature, her voice and music blows me away with its strength and intensity. When she sings there is literally no room in your head for anything else, a glass edged voice, at times operatic which slices through the brain, dissecting emotion.
On occasion, Ragz's introductions reveal the inspiration behind her songs which apart from being informative, I find incredibly brave and moving because it leaves no doubt she draws on her own intensely emotional and personal experiences, a reminder of the vulnerability of humanity which can be hard to admit and even harder to express.
Nearly every song sounds like a classic with their beautifully crafted melodies and heart wrenching lyricism, emotion wrung dry with every note and breath, nothing more could be squeezed out.
Whether accompanied by a barest whisper of guitar strum, echoed by the glimmer of sweetly picked guitar, highlighted by a touch of tinkling cymbals, subtly harmonised or given a heart beat by tabla like percussive drums, Ragz's voice is the star as it sings her soul whilst clinging to the strum of her guitar to stop it floating away into the ether.
Her songs and voice speak of experience beyond her years, tales of life observed and experienced with extreme passion and empathy for the human condition, expressed in pure raw feeling and a staggeringly honest exploration of difficult themes, such as love thrown away or abused, regret, irretrievable mistakes, mental illness, despair, depression, how we hurt, how we hurt and use others, this planet, selfishness but then there is love and sympathy, shining, in all its guises, which does its best to conquer all.
Having seen Ragz live, I was anxious to hear how she translated to CD and acquired three of her recordings, each enlightening and beautiful in different ways.
"Love You Still", a limited edition EP features a band line up with all songs particular favourites of mine, as is the unusual percussive, hollow drum sound which I assume is the "packing case" used in some of her live performance, somehow conveying the impression of a wooden hut, hidden in a forest clearing, with light filtering through dusty panes while brief but shining strands of guitar and shimmering hi hat, punctuate and emphasise the clarity of Ragz's voice, grounded by just the right touch of bass , adding to the warmth of gentle harmonisation.
Guitar heart wrench introduces the title track, "Love You Still", joined by vocal heartbreak, expressing despair hard to bear, at throwing away a love deeper than imagined ,never to be recovered, the ache in the stomach ,head and heart, in the spikes of hi- hat, a hurt beyond repair, conveyed so movingly by the break in Ragz's voice, as she sings " ....some things can kill and it's hard to admit how I miss you more now, I miss you more....what if I love, what if I love you, what if I love you still, when it's too late...."
"Hold On", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYKrjtnNhXY full of love and passionate refusal to give up on someone ".... your heart was breaking, cold ice to the core of your soul but I could still see you, I can still see you.... I will hold on through the storm..... I will refuse to carry on without you..... Please lift your eyes.... Remember you are not alone"
What enviable talent to express such sentiment so clearly and movingly, in the simple sweet entreaty of a guitar line and the gentlest yet intensely caring vocal.
Then there is "Oh Oh", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYKrjtnNhXY possibly my favourite Ragz song in its emotional sympathy for the ways of the mind and the whole other world, unseen but existing in our heads. The music, instrumentation and vocals to this are simply heart breaking and it is fairly impossible not to weep as she sings " You'd rather take your words, swallow them back down and choke.....", ..." You were never made for risks, mistakes or regrets..", "As your skin grows hard.....", "You will lie still your life will forget its thrill...","Now and again I'll whisper in vain, you know there's so much more..."., " So I said Oh Oh.....".
The heart wrench of being on the outside of someone lost inside their head, so evocatively wrung from guitar, voice and hollow percussion, it hurts.
This song is a classic which defiantly deserves recognition and will certainly remain with me forever.
"No Fairytale", is an uncomfortably honest expression of how we hurt others through anger and frustration ,how cruelly unconsidered words can hurt more than blows, wounds to the heart that never quite heal ,the empty, cold, aftermath of regret perfectly expressed in nagging, frustrated , chastising guitar and vocals that seek justification which cannot quite be found, recalling " You stood up, twisting your hands...", " I choked and lost my ground...."," the ugliest words ... from my tongue, nailing your heart like shots from a gun, unprovoked I shot you down..", ".. but I warned you... I'm no fairytale..", "...pale as ice you say goodbye.....", "...So I am left with myself as my mind splits in two, I am sure this is when I should run after you, say I'm sorry but I don't even try...", "..You took your stand and I know I let you down"
The EP ends with "Norwegian Hymn" which is sung a cappella, showcasing the clarity, sureness and tone of Ragz's voice, which shines in this tale from her home land, sung in her native tongue which I have no comprehension of but conveys fantastical, ethereal fairytales sung by mother to child in the wonderland of youth, in a magical land faraway.
The trio of songs on the EP, "Dreams" develops this theme with two more Norwegian dreamscapes conjured up by layered mysterious echoing voices, electronic sounds and effects, hollow percussive thuds, keyboard and xylophone. Though the words are Norwegian, the picture Ragz paints with her music requires no interpretation.
Ragz's first EP, "Little Stings", featuring songs written in her early teens, is more stripped back with her and acoustic guitars in quietly reflective mood subtly accompanied by piano, keyboard, percussion and vocal harmony. Like "Love you Still", "Little Stings" expresses Ragz's compassion for and understanding of the darke, sadder side of human nature, as well as the wonderment of life.
"Where it's Gone", ponders to itself in nursery rhyme fashion "Where it's gone... If I knew......I would leave it there on its own.... then my hours could pass peacefully and I could wait, sit down till late, knowing it would be back soon...", "... something has gone off on its own and I am lost without it...", the small still vocal wistfully reflecting on irretrievable loss.
"More", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzUJqgDMWCM another of my favourites, a dark classic, and voice accompanied by "Kate Bush" piano, the word "more", childishly and selfishly repeated, weeps in bemoaning our greed and excesses to the detriment of the human spirit and this planet. "... More she says, more he gave....More she claimed of him, more he gave in... the two of them collide...",",.... angels fall and hit the human ground, broken wings they crash without a sound..", "... we have all forgotten what the heart is because we keep on... claiming more...", " more and the world is left in shame .. more...with only ourselves to blame...", "... more and the world comes undone.... more and all the great ones will be gone... the rest of us will collide".
This is more than a song, from two pathetic whimpers that start the song to a darkly prophetic final collision, it is a great and stunningly beautiful song.
"You in The Back" , the quiet soul too timid to turn round and face the world is slowly coaxed round by gentle entreaty growing to a battle cry of tribal drums and strummed guitar, making the impossible, possible with the help of Ragz. "This for you in the back.. holding on... You're half way born.... everything is simply impossible if you're facing the world with your back... you're terrified of things that hurt ....so you are holding back.... you're covered with smiles and with words...you're soon to crack....... you're still holding on.... now you are charging up for your attack.... you're almost born .....everything is certainly possible ..."
"Run", sounds cynical but is again devastatingly honest in how, for one reason or other, women judge and label other women "...You've seen this girl before....she is impossible to please..", "... this is a challenge that will drown you, 'cause it doesn't matter how well you can swim...", "..... She seems like an angel but will leave you in hell....", ".... You've got to give her everything you've got.... impossible to stop...'cause she's got the upper hand and will always be in demand.... her only goal is to get stuck in your skin..","... please hesitate for a second dear and use your intuition... there's a troubled soul in the water here....just run.."
The lilt of Ragz voice conjures up the swaying hips of femme fatale, hypnotising the unwary, deaf to entreaties, drunk on sweet honey flowing from her lips, like the mythical mermaid luring her beau into mesmerising deadly depths, realised in this world as a hollow representation of media myth beauty, a mirage yielding no succour.
Mosquito Man dispels darkness, like waking in the sunlight of a lover's bed this sweet slip of a song captures the pure pleasure of love. " My fingertips are talking about you ,tiny words for smiles ...there 's tickle left inside my stomach ...,pearly skin for miles please, please..... no more now...""My mosquito man is tickling my brain with needles, little stings for me.... his buzzing echoes through my bits and bones too often.... now they scream out silently.... please, please ..... no more now"
In "Feel Something" a broken , distorted music box introduces the broken man who no longer feels anything and hides away in his head, " Bear with me for one more moment more he said out loud.... with his eyelids closed he could live inside his head for hours ... better in this dark when nothing can get in to him... He'll close his eyes ...his skies again....'cause he might feel something..", "He is digging tiny holes into his mind every day... running out of space for all of him to hide away... beams of sun might burn into his iris.... he is better off when no one knows he is here". Shut off in his own world where feelings cannot disturb him, the tune nags round and round the hollow echoing of his head, a world from which frustrated entreaties cannot rouse him to feel and engage, leaving him alone with his broken music box dreams.
The CD ends with a live version of "Breathe" in which Ragz, accompanied by a slow heartbeat of tabla like drum and the merest touch of guitar, gently entreats someone to just let go, breath and love for a while, "Hey you..I've seem that face before. ...Your heart skips a beat again ","Hey you.. around you people are talking about you... people are walking away while your heart keeps missing the beat...."," Won't you please relax, you need to relax please relax... try breathing for a change ","Don't need to figure it all out now....Let the time take its own course.. Let your heart hold its beat again. ...won't you let somebody love you...won't you let somebody feel your love....don't keep your heart from loving someone"," Try breathing for a change ...Try loving someone"
A reminder to us to take the time to just be and let life and love take us where it will because in rushing forward headlong we sometimes forget to look up and see the beauty that surrounds us.
I for one am glad I took the time to listen to Ragz's and she has the courage to give us the gift of her music and poetry, for getting inside our heads and showing us we are not alone.
I believe Ragz is currently recording a new CD, so keep an eye on her MySpace
The very personal opinions of Miss Chumki Banerjee
Loving Liverpool and music
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- Probe Plus Gig 16 September 2011 - 18/11/2011
- TJ and Murphy Interview - 18/11/2011
- Musical Love Song continues - 21/09/2011
- Subway Sect Gig Review, 10 September 2011 - 20/09/2011
- Two beautiful songs - 13/08/2011
- Musical Love Song More great New Music - 09/08/2011
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- Music to metamorphose to: Two Great Bands - 12/06/2011
- Liverpool Gig I highly recommend, 19 May 2011 - 16/05/2011
- TJ and Murphy Guitar Festival Review - 12/01/2011
- Love Song Music for you - 14/08/2010
- TJ and Murphy Gig Review - 13/08/2010
- Confessions of a music slut - 04/02/2010