The Electric Rag Band proves the grass is not always greener.
Sometimes it’s blue.
My Side is the Tulsa father-son combo’s sixth studio album. Father Pat Cook is on guitar, and son Dan Cook is on drums. The bluesy folk band also includes some washboard elements.
Released in October, 13-song My Side might be the group’s most polished record yet. The Rag Band doesn’t necessarily break new ground on the project, which deals with themes related to the joys and frustrations of love. The appeal is in the execution.
Much of the first half of the album recounts classic, relatable tales of courtship and relationships. Working up the strength to talk to that girl — the one with just the right look and just the right smile — elicits a very specific and conflicted feeling. “Do This to Me” conjures that feeling well. “She’s So Good Lookin’” also has a very familiar feeling. In the chorus, Pat howls the phrase in exactly the way those words were meant to be said — backed by your everlasting soul.
The third track, “She’s Got My Car,” is particularly interesting. In the song, a stranded man reflects on the decision to let his girlfriend borrow the car. There’s something in the man’s words that lets us know he’s missing something. Who or what that is, however, seem to be up to interpretation. The song is a reminder of how some men talk about women and cars in much the same way.
While the first half of the album features good, straightforward storytelling, My Side really kicks into gear with “Like I Want,” a more upbeat song. The middle of the album, which also includes “Charleston Girl” and instrumental “Two Dollar Strings,” is the danceable portion of the project. The drums on “Strings,” in particular, make you want to get up and move.
The Electric Rag Band’s storytelling rises to another level as the album comes to a close. “Smash That Radio” is truly something different from the rest of the music on My Side, in a good way. It’s one of the best lyrical songs on the release; acoustic strings give the song more depth than those before it.
As the Cooks smash radios “to break clear,” the end of the album seems to take on a tougher edge in general. Pat plays with allegory in all three of the closing tracks. “Slider” equates a tough, hard-to-understand woman with a confounding major league pitch. The closer, “My Revolution Blues,” ends the album with a head-nodding and harmonized anthem.
Much of My Side is upbeat. Even if the listener has no vested interest in The Electric Rag Band or its musical style, it is hard to imagine someone coming away from the experience without respect for what the duo is doing. With the band’s down-to-earth stories, swaying instrumental backing and a healthy dose of clean fun, listeners will want to take the Cook side in any family feud.
My Side may be streamed on Spotify and purchased online from iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Learn more about The Electric Rag Band and My Side at ragband.com.
Print headline: Juiced blues, The Electric Rag Band’s sixth album, My Side, is nothing short of a good time.