Founding Snatches of Pink frontman, Michael Rank, has released his fourth record in half as many years with his newest outfit Stag. The North Carolina based outlaw folk pioneer has managed to put together ten new songs that are terribly addictive and equally compelling entitled Deadstock. The record is every bit as raw as one would expect from Rank, yet another example of how staying true to self and writing from the soul imbues and somehow finds its way into the ears of those who need to hear it. Perhaps a few more roots are showing then Snatches of Pink and Clarissa albums of the past two decades on Deadstock, but Rank’s songwriting hasn’t skipped a beat. The record has a feel of coming back, simplifying things, maybe in life just as much as music. The glorious fiddle and mandolin work by Gabriele Pelli and Ron Bartholomew respectively, or maybe the faint pedal steel guitar vamps that accompany Rank’s vocals and his acoustic guitar are the root of the emotion; coupled with the jagged harmonized back-up vocals of Skylar Gudasz.
Rank is a rocker with the stripes to prove it, having shared the stage with The Ramones, The Cramps, and the indelible Johnny Thunders, amongst other legendary musicians with Snatches of Pink and the two album alter-ego band, Clarissa. Deadstock picks up where Rank and Stag left off withMermaids, the second full length album released in 2013(third overall), if not a bit more organic in both delivery and songwriting with a healthy helping of soul. “The Stars Were Brighter” is an absolute gem that finds Rank channeling his inner Stax-style, soul-filled lyrics inundated with mando and fiddle fills to equal a foot-tapping ditty that I still can’t get out of my head. Rank’s prolific ability to pen songs is something special. How many artists release four full length albums, well within a two year window and are able to keep it fresh and non-repetitive.
I enjoy the more stripped down Stag and hope they continue down this path. It comes off effortless in the DIY setting Rank and company have immersed themselves in. There can be a sort of strain to try to sound stripped down these days and it’s refreshing to have it “just happen” as it does on this record. The final three songs on the album “Little Late For Me”, “Son”, and “Bounty” are sure highlights for any sad song zealot. Deadstock is a must have for my money, I’m excited to see where Michael Rank and Stag take things from here…stay tuned.
+Words: Scott Zuppardo+