There is a long history of social conscience in music, these days it is frowned upon by many. There are so many complaining as our heroes from yesteryear continue to have a conscience rather than accepting the status quo. Music is to lose yourself in they say, to act as a panacea for our ills not to comment on the world we live in, forgetting all those protests and angry young men pointing out injustice, sing the hits asshole they shout as they sing along to Ohio forgetting the meaning.
Many these days don’t want their worlds disturbed by the discomfort of someone else’s opinion. If you don’t agree that’s fine disagree, argue, debate, don’t fling crap and debase.
The alternatives are truespeak and capitulation.
Jay Farrar’s band Son Volt’s most recent album Union falls into the songwriter as conscience of the nation. Its an album packed with commentary on our world over here in the good ole USA.
The interesting thing for me is the reviews Farrar and Co. have received, ranging from dull and uninspiring to rediscovering the songwriters soul. It seems that even our music rags want musicians to entertain not challenge. Of course it depends which side of the aisle you sit, from my perspective the right has not really managed to dredge too many great songs out of their collective talent pool. That is however my bias I am aware.
Now it’s not a perfect album, it has some beautiful moments and some odd choices, however it is good to see a musician getting what is rattling around his head down on the record, whether its the state of liberty in the land of the free, the plight of the immigrant and the battle for the soul of a country not to mention a Rebel Girl.
It helps I think that Farrar’s voice is world weary and the band are backing him up with some intense and yet relaxed countryfied rock.
“Lady Liberties tears may they wash away the prejudice…”