Ragdoll Line Up:
Ryan Rafferty |Bass/Vocals
Leon Todd | Guitar
Cam Barrett | Drums
Perth three piece Ragdoll have been playing locally and all over the U.S.A for 6 years, and it’s taken them that long to drop their debut LP ‘Back To Zero’. The term ‘debut’ had me slightly confused as I have a copy of ‘Rewound’ on regular rotation, but the confusion was cleared up after guitarist Leon Todd told me ‘Rewound’ was a remastered and remixed combination of their first two EP’s. So confused reviewer out of the way, ‘Back To Zero’ is not a huge departure from Ragdoll’s previous releases – but that’s a good thing. What it is is a big step forward both musically and lyrically.
From the opening title track, a spooky short instrumental transitions seamlessly into ‘Shine’, where we hear Ryan Rafferty’s unmistakable vocals for the first time combined with Leon Todd’s low crunching guitar and Cam Barrett’s straight out rock drumming. It’s a fairly laid back track with a nice hook easing the listener into the album ahead. ‘Playing God’ continues in a similar vein, picking up the tempo as Todd breaks loose on a scorching solo for the first, but certainly not last time on the album. The boys then have a bit of commentary on the social media addiction that is now part of living in the 21st century with ‘The World You Gave Us’. Another straight down the line rock song destined for high rotation on FM rock radio (if such a thing still exists).
‘Rewind Your Mind’ was released as a single back in 2015 and it jumps into the mid-point of the album. It’s just another great rock track and crowd favourite whenever it’s played live. Todd’s low crunching guitar kicks off ‘The Last Time’ asking the question “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” This song conjures up Sammy Hagar era Van Halen, yet fits perfectly in 2016. Next track ‘Letting Go’ is an up-tempo rocker which tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence, and at just over three minutes is short sharp and right to the point.
More dark lyrics in ‘Dreaming Out Loud’ and, like so much of
the album, harks back musically to the hard rock of the 70’s or 80’s, with a distinctive Aerosmith flavour. ‘Save Me’ changes things up again, with complex timing changes switching from straight out rock to an almost funky groove courtesy of Ryan Rafferty’s sublime bass playing. It took a few listens to really appreciate this song, and I’m glad I didn’t discount it right away as it’s a highlight. ‘Love On The Run’ is a huge driving, foot stomping rock song that reminds me of the best Bon Jovi has to offer (no offence to the boys from New Jersey but I’d rather listen to Ragdoll any day).
The album starts and ends with an instrumental track, the latter an almost psychedelic piece with ‘Kungfoolery’.
‘Back To Zero’ is Ragdoll showing what three hairy blokes with a ton of drive and bucketloads of talent can do. They’ve created a no-nonsense hard rock album that rightly belongs in any fan of the genre’s collection.
I’m giving ‘Back To Zero’ 8 hairy rockers out of 10
- Back To Zero
- Playing God
- The World You Gave Us
- Rewind Your Mind
- The Last Time
- Letting Go
- Dreaming Out Loud
- Save Me
- Love On The Run