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Ben Ratliff, “Misplaced Desire”

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Ben Ratliff’s EP “Misplaced Desire” is a double-barrelled blues shotgun, powered equally by Ratliff’s icy baritone vocals and his and Jeff Winter’s chunky guitar riffs, with support from a solid rhythm section and production that strikes a good balance between clean and moody.

Ratliff’s raw, rootsy sound comes out of city and country blues traditions, but the songwriting takes in other forms, from the heavy-metal drawl of “Leviathan” – an apocalyptic indictment of the Bush oiligopoly – to the bluesy tango of the closer “You Never Miss:”

You were trouble, I might have guessed
A Jezebel in a cocktail dress…
On the outside, a southern belle
With a tongue fired up in hell

I beg and plead for one more kiss
You know I’m always like this
Cause you never miss

Ratliff maintains his grim energy through the minor-key blues of “Permanent Midnight,” which has a Ray Wylie Hubbard vibe, the lost-love lyrics of the chunky country waltz “Time Slips Away,” and the insistent beat of the original folk-ballad “My Dayz” where Ratliff’s vocals seem to channel Ian Anderson at his wryest.

Highly recommended for roots-music fans everywhere.

Available at CD Baby

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • mwanji

    I suppose this isn’t the Ben Ratliff that writes for the NY Times?

  • Jon Sobel

    No it’s not, but I understand he gets that all the time. In fact I think there’s something about it on his website,