HomeMusicRalph Nix & the Guilt Birds Release ”Good Ingredients”

Ralph Nix & the Guilt Birds Release ”Good Ingredients”

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Crossover country-soul gets a much-needed revitalization in the all-new effort from Ralph Nix & the Guilt Birds, Good Ingredients. Recorded with a sense of confidence that immediately had my attention upon sitting down with the music, Good Ingredients features a bittersweet catharsis that blankets southern harmonies and balladic blues elegies and lends supple surrealism to tracks like “The Wish,” “Cohay,” “Stella” and “Marie.” Textures within the string melodies paint us a picture of the American landscape as seen through the eyes of a singer/songwriter and his band very much on in search of adventure here, while sporadic stampedes of powerful beats keep us on the edge of our seats, waiting to find out what this wayward yet melodic road will throw in our direction next. 

“Window Shopping”, “Stella,” “Whiskey Drink’n Women” and “Retold” are some of the more complex examples of Ralph Nix & the Guilt Birds’ transcendent songwriting style, while “Call Me Baby,” “Mercy Me” and “Cohay” display a simplistic lyricism that has made other records in the alternative country genre do quite well with mainstream audiences. From what I gather, besides the collective story that the songs tell us throughout the album, Good Ingredients was created with the idea of bringing all of the influences that Nix has as a performer – from soul to gospel, blues to rock, country to folk, and bluegrass to jazz – into a singular tracklist that would give us the full package of what he and his band are capable of producing when they’re firing on all cylinders in the studio together. 

In “Call Me Baby,” the tension in the music swells to an almost unbearable level, and we don’t return to a relaxed place until we get into the emotional end track “The Wish,” which in more ways than one brings us full-circle to where we first started in Good Ingredients. By using the mood in the instrumentation to contextualize every verse that we hear in this LP, the Guilt Birds not only show off the virtuosity of Nix’s lyricism but moreover, the dexterity of their skillset as a unit. Not many bands in country, rock, folk or any genre put in the kind of time and effort that it takes to make an album as soul-stirring as this one is, and that’s exactly why it’s such a refreshing record to come across. 

If you prefer real roots rock and southern Americana of the most elite variety, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying listen this January than you will in Good Ingredients. This scene has lately made it so that whenever one of its bands or singer/songwriters cuts a new album, it automatically builds up the hopes of both fans as well as critics like myself, and I can vouch that – at least in this situation – the material lives up to all of the buzz that it’s been getting even before seeing an official release in the United States and abroad. 2023 is going to be a big year for Ralph Nix, and anyone who loves honest music. 

Heather Savage

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