Long, who plays guitar, is also an emerging 24-year-old singer-songwriter, propelled forward by a natural talent for music discovered at an early age. He formed his first band when he was ten.
We played a song I wrote, which I think was essentially a sped-up version of Bob Dylan's Is Your Love In Vain, with a sax taking the place of the vocal," he says. "I was heavily into Street Legal then, for some reason. Sorry, Bob."
His sound is much different now. Long recently released his first single, Shtick, a roughly cut home studio produced upbeat alt rock ballad of sorts. It's about how everything you do in love comes back to you or maybe how things just come back on you. The B-side, the even stronger Range, is a brooding subtle statement that touches on the cold and often empty feeling at the end of a relationship.
Neither are perfect. Both were produced quickly while Long has been working to learn engineering on the fly. He says he is ever more closer to making the music the way he wants to hear it. However, he still looks forward to working with friends who own studios in London, Ash Gardner's House of Strange among them.
"There is a reason being an artist and producer are traditionally kept separate," says Long. "And, to oversee the tracking, overdubbing, and mixing can become a drag unless you're very disciplined, even if you're reasonably disciplined like I am."
Backing Long on his single and upcoming spring EP are Will Lamport (drums) and Richard Ellis (bass). They make up the Primary 3, a mutable backing band that is still short a pedal steel player. Or maybe not. Long says there are some advantages to being a member short and avoiding a bigger sound that tends to come with rougher edges.
Besides, after working alongside Lamport and Ellis for years, the trio has developed a special kind of chemistry, perhaps telepathy, that allows them to work in two very different ways. Long writes the song and lyrics with Lamport and Ellis adding their parts weeks or months later. Or, like the album tracking session they have planned in January, they walk into a room, someone says "1, 2, 3," and something happens.
The B-side Range and another song that Long recently debuted called Winter From Here On exemplify the difference. Long recorded the demo for Range in one night. Lamport and Ellis overdubbed their parts months later. In contrast, Winter From Here On was live improvised, which explains why it clunks and chugs along as they find their groove (and lose it now and again).
Somewhere in the rawness, something is happening and it's better than good. Never mind if you don't really know what might come next. Such free spirited moments are what people remember most from live performances.
Shtick By Ralegh Long Sticks A 3.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
There is an unrestrained aspect about Long that not everyone will embrace, but the talent is unmistakeable. One wonders if this is how Robyn Hitchcock or Ray Davies started before becoming grounded. Maybe we'll know with the release of the first EP.
You won't find Shtick or Range on iTunes or Amazon. It is available exclusively from Bandcamp, which is a name-your-price space for artists. It seems fitting, given how one of our reviewers first stumbled upon Long after he remixed a Kristin Hersh song on SoundCloud, where he tests demos from time to time. Worth the visit. Support the artist.