Every week on Bro Radio, we feature an artist local to South Wales on our playlist, and this week's Local Artist of the Week is Ragsy, a Singer-Songwriter who found success on ITV's The Voice, before making his name as an independent artist.
Ragsy will release his latest single, "The First Time" tomorrow, on the 19th of February, which is taken from the upcoming album, "One More From The Road".
The single begins with immediate heft, as distorted and reversed sound makes way to a driving acoustic guitar track, swirling synths and Fleetwood Mac, "Big Love" style, grunts, before layered harmonies take you into Ragsy's warm, somehow familiar-on-first-listen, vocal.
Ragsy's voice has all the soul and gravel - as well as a good deal of the Welsh twang - of Stereophonics' Kelly Jones, but it is far from a mere impersonation of the Cwmaman superstar, with a personality and sound all of its own.
The track continues with lyrics rich in the nostalgia of the first stages of a relationship and all the emotions that go with it - the need for reassurance, the uncertainty of reciprocation and the strength of desire. The First Time's chorus is near instantly memorable, to the point where you'll find yourself singing along to it before the three-and-a-half-minute run time is complete.
I caught up with Ragsy to chat about the single and the upcoming album, earlier in the week on Vale Drive, where he explained the inspiration behind the lyrics to "The First Time":
"The song is all about those beautiful firsts we all go through and we all experience - I know I experienced it with my partner, Hannah - where you meet that one, you know, the one that you know you're going to be with them for the rest of your life.
"It's all those lovely firsts that you go through, you know, when you make eye contact for the first time and you go "yes, here we go" and then you hold hands and have that first kiss and all those lovely firsts that you go through and then you decide that yes, that's it, we're going to take on the world together!"
On Ragsy's Facebook page, the artist describes himself as "continuously touring". In our interview, I asked him how much of an effect this pandemic and the related lockdowns had therefore had on his life:
"There was a point where for years, that's all I was doing - continuously touring, exploring and adoring life - just was on the road constantly. My partner, Hannah and the little one, Seren, would join me as well, and I would go from festival to festival to venue and I've got loads of lovely regular festivals that I always play at, as well as new ones and sadly, the tour was all lined up last year with all these festivals in mind and booked in as well, but yeah, we had to cancel it all, so that doesn't really exist anymore, but I can't wait to recapture it."
Ragsy went on to tell me what he had been up to through the continuing lockdowns:
"Well, it's been a blessing and a curse to be honest with you, because, obviously on the music side of things, everything had stopped until now because you're just trying to look at the landscape and see how it lies while this pandemic was beginning, but I got to spend loads of time with my family, which for me, that was a blessing.
"Just playing with the little one with my partner, Hannah, and just having that time where you know - it reminded me of being a kid - baking and doing all those things that you don't need a lot of money for.
"There was loads of bonuses to come out of it, spending time and not needing a lot of money and just baking, going for walks and things like that and rediscovering ourselves."