The apple may not fall far from the tree but once in awhile it rolls a bit.
Suzi Ragsdale is the product of a musical family. Her father is Harold Ray Ragsdale—better known as Ray Stevens—who is best remembered for his comedy and tongue-in-cheek songs. Such hits as “Ahab The Arab,” “Harry The Hairy Ape,” “Guitarzan,” “I Need Your Help Barry Manilow,” and “The Streak” all graced the American pop charts. In addition, who can forget his chicken clucking hit, “In The Mood,” which reached the top forty in 1979?
Every once in awhile he would release a serious song, though, like “Everything Is Beautiful,” which topped the U.S. pop charts for two weeks in April of 1970. The children’s chorus at the beginning of that song featured the debut of his daughter, Suzi.
Suzi Ragsdale is now over three decades into her career. While she has not been prolific in the studio herself, she has appeared on over fifty albums as a back-up singer. Releases by Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Tom Paxton, Ian Tyson, Guy Clark, Hank Williams Jr. and many more have used her vocal skills.
She has now released a double CD, entitled Best Regards & Less Of The Same. Each disc contains only six tracks and could have easily been combined onto one disc. On the other hand, the music of each is unique and so maybe splitting them was best.
Best Regards is the stronger of the two discs. Suzi penned all of its songs, proving herself a songwriter of note. Her skill as a lyricist is top notch and the words fit the song structures well. Her vocals have a bluesy feel as well as excellent tone and clarity. “Wake Up” and “Two On A Tightrope” are both catchy pop/blues tunes. Also, the acoustic-driven “Chorus Girl” paints wonderful lyrical pictures.
Less Of The Same gathers together some of her older compositions. The songs are a more eclectic group and lack the cohesiveness of the other set. The opener, “Full Light,” is the only song which she did not write yet it's this disc's best track. It is a catchy country song with some superior mandolin playing. “My One And Only Valentine” and “Pay Attention” are about love and loss.
Suzi Ragsdale has issued a fine album overall, which not only highlights her vocal skills but also her ability to combine those vocals with a variety of instruments to create a memorable and creative sound. Hopefully she will spend more time in the studio on her own as this release provides an excellent example of her skills.