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.
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