This Is Not A Dream
On their their third album, Melbourne band Lost Ragas take their brand of psychedelic country music further out into the cosmos, though its title and various thematic references suggest the territory they’re exploring is our internal subconscious and its relationship with the realities of the modern world.
They’re a band in the truest collective sense but the songwriting centres around Matt Walker and Shane Reilly, who split the songs 50/50 this time around. That said, there isn’t a clear sonic and poetic delineation between their respective songs. They all incorporate mystical, swirling psych-pop elements, that add colour and otherworldliness to what are essentially songs from the template of classic country music, whether that’s the smooth tones of the Tulsa Sound, Willie Nelson-styled balladry or the arch-songwriter shapes of Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb and Randy Newman.
Opener ‘Keeping Up With Yesterday’ is an audacious start, on the back of Reilly’s soaring string arrangement. Walker’s ‘Just Wastin’ Time’ is a melodic honky-tonk number that switches between earthbound and daydreaming moods. ‘I Broke A Heart’ demonstrates how inventive they can get with guitar and pedal steel sounds, adding a Twin Peaks vibe to a Roy Orbison-styled croon. ‘People Funny’ takes the sonic gumbo approach to the outer limits with its tough groove. ‘Black Rose’ on the other hand plays it straight, allowing its perfect mix of melody and melancholy to ring true.
This Is Not A Dream is populated by songs that touch on reality vs. inhabiting one’s self-created world. There are some heady concepts at play yet the band never overcook them. The real stroke of genius is the way they’ve married those ideas with a symbiotic musical universe. They may be part of the Americana scene but Lost Ragas aren’t the stay-at-home types, they’re adventurers looking to explore new and psychedelic frontiers and the transmissions they’re sending back are quite mesmerising.