Tuesday, 2 January 2018

ALBUM REVIEW - Keegan McInroe - A Good Old Fashioned Protest : Self-Released

What do you need more in life than A GOOD OLD FASHIONED PROTEST? Keegan McInroe has pulled no punches in naming his new album, while going about populating the content with witty, hard hitting and articulate material. Of course, such a genre of popular music is nothing new, stretching back to a common focal point of Guthrie and penetrating the new century with artists like McInroe’s Texas compatriot James McMurtry. It was the latter’s play with a multitude of words that sprang to mind when listening to this album; one that despite being around in its homeland for a few months is getting a renewed lift overseas with a January UK release. Where this album scores highly is its balanced approach to a core topic. Well-crafted ire is mixed with a touch of uplifting sentimentality as the subject springs far from the architect’s homeland and takes both a macro and micro stance.

Essentially, this record will fall into niche laps, but the widespread importance of the message will be enhanced by every little intake of oxygen it is given to fly further. Eyebrows will be raised with the lexicon choice for ‘Bombing for Peace’ and ‘Bastards & Bitches’, but the impact does not stop with the vocabulary, think more pace, structure and imagery like ‘chainsaw to a melody’. In fact, word construction is a major redeeming feature of this body of work, which kicks off with a lyric-laden attack on the media in ‘Talking Talking Head Blues’ and later wanders into poetic territory with the highly ‘philosophical’ ‘Nietzsche Wore Boots’. Hitting the search button on your devices is a useful addendum to listening to this album.

Photo credit fortworthfunky.com
If there is one song that is likely to linger long, then look no further than ‘Christmas 1914’. While an anti-militaristic view on the modern word and its revised definitions of ‘war’ bury deep, McInroe could not resist a take on the timeless story of what happened on Christmas Day 1914 in the trenches of war stricken Europe. Yes, there is room for another song celebrating this story and it would not be a surprise if this piece does not become a staple on those Christmas tune shows that follow an alternative path. It was mooted earlier that the record is not entirely based on anger and the two tracks that close the album adhere to this. ‘The Love That We Give’ points to a different approach, while ‘Keegan’s Beautiful Dream’ needs about as much introduction as the title of the album.

On a record that is short, sharp and straight to the point, the two remaining tracks roll out as the metaphorical number ‘Big Old River’ and the thoughtful narration of ‘The Ballad of Timmy Johnson’s Living Brother’. Songs that demand being listened to and achieve their purpose when the reasons for their existence are being contemplated.

Do not imagine this record is a tough listen. As you would expect, acoustic guitar (complete with the implied sticker – ‘this machine kills fascists’) generally but not solely rules the instrumentation. Accessible melodies occasionally give it an ironic easy listening feel, while hooks are aplenty. Eventually, the smart lyrical content wins the day though. We are left with the notion ‘for the world’s failing systems lie broke and dying’ and on that note the real reason for the existence of Keegan McInroe’s A GOOD OLD FASHIONED PROTEST has been nailed. 

Track Listing   

1.   Talking Talking Head Blues (4:00)     
2.   Big Old River (2:52)     
3.   Bombing For Peace* ** * (2:07)    
4.   Christmas 1914 (3:39)     
5.   Bastards & Bitches* ** * (1:00)     
6.   The Ballad of Timmy Johnson’s  Living Brother (3:25)     
7.   Nietzsche Wore Boots (3:00)     
8.   The Love That We Give (4:51)     
9.   Keegan’s Beautiful Dream (2:53

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