Having listened to Phil Ochs, the Fugs, Dylan, Baez, and all the 60s/70s war protesters, while later critiquing David Rovics, Jefferson Parsons, the Seegers, and others in various print venues, I'm hardly a stranger to politically oriented thematics and artworks, but it's not often that anyone dedicates a whole disc to such goings on, so it was striking to find this in the mail, but, hm, the kick-off title cut was inspired by the bizarrer-by-the-day Tea Party? Yow! What might be in store for the unwary critic?
Well, a surprisingly level-headed exposition of middle class anger, thoughtfulness, visceral reaction, and grassroots political sentiment, actually, all of it set in a Springsteenian mold and more than a little informed by historical truths. The title cut was inspired by the Tea Party, but obviously Dragon Rose caught that venture well before it went off the rails, before the Koch Bros. and Glenn Beck turned it to a herding device. Rose's personal turning point came when, in 2009, he chanced across a gent who'd been given a rude wake-up call, a mid-level exec in a corporation who had played by the rules only to find himself out on his ass in an instant, the moment the corporation could make him superfluous, his American Dream revealed as yet another business con, a nightmare.
Thus, Rose grabbed his acoustic, rounded up a gaggle of similarly disenchanted musicians, among them the marvelous guitarist Bob Wlos, and set to escaping the sidelines. The recording of Revolution is muddy in places, sometimes unbalanced, vocals a bit masked here and there, but perfectly in keeping with precisely what this type of release is all about: the Everyman rolling his sleeves up and diving in, devil take the hindmost. Amid more than a few flaws is nonetheless a real indie effort, and one can't help but be drawn in. And that cover with the PhotoShopped pig-people and mousemen escaping the Capitol Dome? A great statement respectively on Repuglicans and Damnocrats.
It's difficult to fault the tough but humane attitude running through the discourse here. Taking no sides, Rose criticizes all and basically wants a return to the united individualism this country was supposed to foster, not the greed-engorged monstrosity machine that has become the corporate governmental norm at all levels. As said, the Springsteen element is strong, the country / rock / folk strain dominant, and the songs are attractive, but the entire effort could have used a better arranging hand (Higher Ground perhaps most appropriately addressed thusly), more attentive engineering, a less static drumbeat, and a better upfront disposition in the vocals, as Rose has a good voice and needs to be the anchor that everything else falls behind, not the other way around. All that in mind, the next release should be exceedingly strong.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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