What’s the recipe for an astounding album? Well, first you take two parts country, equal parts rock ‘n’ roll, then a dash of heart and soul, and finally, find an artist who can exemplify all of this successfully. Said artist is Ben Ottewell, and said album is Rattlebag, his sophomore solo release. Everything about this album screams authenticity, from the musical and lyrical content to the physical CD (which is a simple seafoam green with white text) to the album artwork or sugar skulls, snakes, doves, and religious imagery.

Ottewell commandeers attention with his gravelly baritone voice, singing with an accent that would make you think he’s from Memphis, Tennessee, rather than Matlock, England. The various songs give one a sense of longing for and finding home, while throwing musical inspirations including The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and B.B. King into the fray.

The most powerful song on Rattlebag has to be “Patience & Rosaries,” a solemn blues rock dirge that slowly picks up volume and aggression as it wears on, before finally coming to a head at the relatively distorted guitar solo. It’s at this point that Ottewell shows his musical prowess in the form of various changing organ and keyboard textures playing slightly audibly during the chaos of the solo. These textures might sound simple, but they add another layer of depth to an already deep song.

Ben Ottewell has managed to bare his soul in a visceral, yet controlled, display of what will hopefully be a long and prosperous tenure.

In A Word: Genuine

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