The album is not a dramatic departure from his work with the English quintet but regardless still stands out as an impressive collection of folk rock songs.
Kicking off with the title track, Ottewell‘s distinct vocals and lyrical prowess (“salvation comes in strange disguise”) has our attention immediately.
‘Red Dress‘ commences with an adroit display of finger picking, supported ably by the deft steel guitar of S.Riley to create a touch of alt country.
Lead single ‘Patience And Rosaries‘ opens with a creeping bassline and contains a touch of menace as Ottewell sings in an ominous hush “there’s no escaping this need”. ‘Edge‘ and ‘Papa Cuckoo‘ are also solid grooving numbers, driven by the stout bassmanship of W. Golden, giving the record forward thrust.
It is however the slower moments on Rattlebag that seep into your pores. The nonchalent charm of ‘So Slow‘ and the tipsy waltz of closer ‘Different Shores‘ are notable standouts. An album highlight is one of the less obvious tracks – ‘No Place‘ (“nothing good lasts forever/deep clouds grow and bring the storm”) revolves around a haunting organ and eerily reverbed vocals. The fact it veers away from the more straightforward verse/chorus structure found on the rest of the record also allows it to protrude as something special and unique.
Through Rattlebag Ben Ottewell has reinforced his already established reputation as a songwriting powerhouse, benefitted additionally by his powerful and instantly recognisable vocal chords. This is an album that will serve to impress both appreciators of Gomez and those unfamiliar with his earlier career.