THE WHISKEY FARM – Songs of Resistance
You can purchase this CD at the band’s website.
The Whiskey Farm will celebrate the release of Songs of Resistance on Wednesday, June 28th at the High Noon Saloon. Special guests include Frank Busch (of Wheelhouse), Ryan Mauer, Evan Murdock, and Amber Sebastian. The event is sponsored by WORT and all proceeds will go to the ACLU of Wisconsin.
The Whiskey Farm follow up their fine 2015 release Book of Matches (read a review here) with a seven-song collection integrating topical political subject matter. It’s almost surreal to think that these songs needed to be written in the first place but such is the state of things in the USA, where the light of enlightenment is willingly being extinguished day by day.
Songs of Resistance sounds like what might happen if Neil Young and Pete Seeger joined Wilco; with just enough electric guitar to keep the rock in folk/rock. Though the themes could come off as heavy, the Whiskey Farm achieve listenability through their use of sarcasm and their by-now-familiar whimsical style. Nothing that they say in these songs is surprising, nor are they things you probably haven’t already thought, they just needed to be said in song.
The sarcasm really hits its stride in “Flag Pin,” a bluesy, mocking takedown of phony patriotism aimed at the politician, the lobbyists and the gun-crazed populace. “Taking money from the left, taking money from the right / You’ve got a team of lawyers working every day and night / You’ve called every lobbyist that works up on the hill / and the NRA want you on the twenty dollar bill / Curlin’ up to sleep in the belly of the beast / If you don’t wake up tomorrow everyone can say at least you had a flag pin / You’ve got a really shiny flag pin / You won’t do nothing ‘bout this mess we’re in / But at least you’ve got a flag pin.” You can practically hear the sneer of singer/guitarist and chief songwriter Jason Horowitz as he delivers these songs, employing his knack for crafty wordplay. The verses are broken up by some gutsy lead guitar from Brett Wilfrid.
“Follow the Money” is similarly acerbic, although delivered with a bouncy, bluegrass feel. “Follow the money / And make the world go round / If the politics seems funny / or the logic is unsound / There’s just one thing to figure out / That’s whose pocket’s getting lined / Follow the money / You’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.” The bridge is especially worth quoting: “If you want to run for office / You’ll need cash to throw around / But don’t worry ‘cause the lobbyists come through / And if you’re really lucky you’ll get voted out of town / Then you can be a lobbyist too.” It would be really funny if it weren’t so goddamn frightening, and you can dance to it.
The album kicks off with “You Are Welcome Here,” and some nice gospel-like harmonies. In the style of some of their previous popular songs, it’s a bouncy piece of folk aimed at immigrants and others currently being demoted to misfit status while quoting “America the Beautiful.”
The title track slightly recalls Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” with its harmonica lines and catchy melody, reinforcing the notion that protest songs can be inspirational and uplifting. The album also includes a remix of “Keep Me Down,” which was included on Book of Matches and is given new purpose here.
Songs of Resistance closes with “The Future is a Long Time,” somewhat of a paradox of the rest of the album in its weary mournfulness: “We’ll be alright / We will get by / I can’t tell you how just yet / But I can tell you why / We’re not alone / We are strong / The future is a long time / And the fight has just begun.” It’s a nice vocal performance from Horowitz and a strong sentiment on which to end the recording.
These are strange days; where every attempt is being made to obfuscate, to divide and conquer. It is in times like these that music is a proven rallying point. Music is always displaying its resistance; to despair, to broken-heartedness, to injustice. Now more than ever. This is but one in what will surely be a line of socially-centered creations. Let’s hope the line is not a long one.