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Music Review: Occupy movement gets a soundtrack; Wainwright III and Rafael shine brightest
"Occupy This Album," Various artists (Razor & Tie)
"Occupy This Album," this homage to the Occupy Wall Street movement, is thick with troubadours and an eye toward social justice. The four-disc compilation is one part "Who's who" and one-part "Who's that?" But there are some gems within this encampment.
The theme is mixed, as has been the movement. Take Richard Barone's "Can I Sleep On Your Futon?" His world is in tatters as he bemoans having a hard time finding the perfect job. "Six years of school and an advanced degree/ And still no job is calling me/ Just student loans and delinquent fees/ I found out the hard way," Barone sings. It's a bit of a stretch to find societal fault with his middle master's degree dilemma.
Other lackluster tracks include Jackson Browne's flat boring rendition of "Come On, Come On, Come On" and Chroma's smarm-filled "Turn The Lights On."
Loudon Wainwright III hits the sweet spot with "The Panic Is On," a track bristling with brilliant guitar and a heartfelt message that things are heading to a boiling point in the United States. On "Play The Greed," Dar Williams asks the listener to ask the right questions of those in power. "Ask why there's only 40 songs on the station/ Ask your cafe about the coffee's plantation," she sings. It's a sweet and smart track and among the best.
CHECK THIS TRACK OUT: Joel Rafael will pull every tear from your eyes on the touching "China Basin Digs," easily the compilation's best song. It begins with an early morning roust of the homeless under a bridge. His voice sparkles, the guitar has a heartbeat and the lyrics lay bare circumstances that hurt to see. In the mid-1990s, Rafael was emerging as a folk-festival regular. Now he's arrived and there simply is no better orator for these troubled and testing times.