If there were resumés for musicians, Suzi Ragsdale‘s would certainly end up on the top of the stack. After taking part in her first recording session while in kindergarten, Ragsdale has been on a wild ride through the music industry where she’s written songs for the likes of Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, sang background on recordings for everyone from Loretta Lynn to Hank Williams Jr., and toured as a member in the bands of iconic songwriters Guy Clark and Darrell Scott; and that’s not even mentioning Ragsdale’s own albums she’s released since her two duet records with Verlon Thompson in 1993 and 1995. Now, in 2020, it’s been a decade since Ragsdale has released her own music, but that only magnifies the refreshing and reassuring wisdom, compassion, and humor of her new EP, Ghost Town. Out everywhere on October 9th, Ghost Town is delivered in a wild-honey-coated voice that echoes Ragsdale’s Southern roots; an all-encompassing expression of the mind-body-spirit connection that speaks right to the heart. Today, Twangville premiered the video for Ghost Town‘s second single, “Live Until You Die,” likening the song to “something Simon & Garfunkel would have done,” noting that this EP, her first release in 10 years, is “worth the wait.” Pre-orders for Ghost Town are available here.
Previously, American Songwriter debuted Ghost Town’s first single, “Wildflowers,” celebrating the “…percolating percussion, wistful slide guitar, and silky vocals” as “effortless.” Watch the “Wildflowers” video
Produced by Ragsdale’s long-time collaborator, Sam Frank, and in part by her father, the legendary songwriter Ray Stevens, Ghost Town kicks off with the rollicking and infectious “Bonfire,” an ode to decluttering and simplifying both the mind and the home, which ends with a celebratory dance around the flickering pyre. On the EP’s affecting title track, lingering memories of “fairytales, fantasies, and lies” haunt the present. Throughout the instantly memorable “Loved and Won,” Ragsdale recites a litany of famous couples, both real and fictional—”Johnny and June, Scarlett and Rhett, Yoko and John, Romeo and Juliet” in the opening verse—and turns the oft-heard “it’s better to have loved and lost” on its ear. The percussive and thoroughly uplifting “Live Until You Die” assures us in its opening line that even the daily rigors of “Eat, drink, sleep, wash, rinse, repeat” are preferable to the alternative.
Ghost Town closes, appropriately enough, with “The Ending,” a candidly poignant track in which she muses that when it comes to spoilers, whether they reveal the last chapter of a book or the inevitable dissolution of a marriage, ignorance of the outcome might prove the more blissful option. Driven by a swirling, heart-piercing melody, it is a prime example of the mind-body-spirit connection found in Suzi Ragsdale’s inspiring and memorable work.
“I want it to make me feel something,” she says of her goal with each new composition. “If I get enough time away from it and then let it surprise me again, to give me goosebumps and make me cry happy tears with the pleasure of having done it, that’s what I’m going for. If I’m going to ask other people to spend their time listening to me I want it to be good enough to do that.”