In her song “I Think I Love You Too Much,” Autumn Ragland, the lead singer of a band that bears her last name, mentions putting on an ‘everything’s all right’ face to please a person she dedicates an unhealthy amount of energy to pleasing. To hear her tell it, it’s not a face she wears well.
“People tell me all the time I can’t keep a straight face if I’m mad. It’s probably really bad.”
Unfortunately, it is one she has to wear all the time in the music industry.
“I’m having to put that face on and smile and be perfect,” Ragland said. “It’s miserable actually. You don’t see that on the guy’s side. They don’t have to put that much effort in. I would see guys at the same event in jeans and sneakers and having a sour look on their face and people are still flocking to them.”
That’s a topic she covers exceptionally well on “Throwing My Life Away.” It’s the second time Ragland has released the song, but this time it comes with a Sunny Sweeney harmony and improved production value. Autumn Ragland rightfully complains about the double standard women face, especially in light of the songs she tends to release.
It would be more than a little jarring to see Autumn sparkling and smiling wide as she sings about topics like her mental health diagnosis on a song like “Guns In The House,” a particularly effective and sparse tune clocking in at less than two minutes. It’s heartbreaking to hear her realization that she’ll be dependent on medication and susceptible to dangerous thoughts for the rest of her life, and it’s not a moment that would make sense recounted with a smile.
“I don’t like that the way I physically present myself is supposed to say more about my music than my music does and that seems to be the case,” Ragland explained. “It makes no sense that I’m required to be really good and deep and write these songs and be true to myself but I also have to do the complete opposite of that and be fake.”
The song was one she captured right after a visit with a doctor.
“They were telling my husband to keep an eye on me and make sure there’s no weapons in the house.” Ragland said. “I’m not going to do anything like that, but I’ve had moments where it felt like that. If I had access to weapons it would’ve been the end for me.”
Elsewhere on the album, the title track is particularly worth listening to. It’s a genuinely sweet love song with a vocal performance to match. “I’m Not Mad, I Just Miss You” isn’t quite as happy, but the details feel real and further expand on the difficulties of being on the road in a way that goes beyond the cliches.
Above is the full episode as aired on WUSB’s Country Pocket, including both my interview with Autumn Ragland and the songs we discussed, starting with “I Think I Love You Too Much,” which I relate to by thinking about how much I let my cat get away with. I’ll let you decide how sad that is. You can hear the show live every Monday at 11am on WUSB 90.1 FM or check the blog to watch it as a YouTube playlist. Visit http://www.WUSB.fm and https://thebandragland.com for more.