Even up until about a year ago I was bemoaning the fact that, despite the way the world was turning, music still seemed to lack any political bite or social messaging, had forgotten what a great platform it had in favour of serving itself, was about the “me” rather that the “us.” Where was the punk ethic? Where was the music borne of dissatisfaction, just as hip-hop and even rock and roll had been? Where was the protest, the line in the sand, and the speaking of truth to power? Where was the “NO!”?
But a lot has changed in the last year, in ways that no-one could have predicted. American seems to be in a fight for its very soul, Britain is set to trade in unity for protectionism and nationalism and an unprecedented pandemic is exacerbating existing tensions to boiling point. We are becoming intrenched, intolerant, divided and panicked in our outlook on life.
Thankfully more and more artists are embracing the power that music offers, grabbing a chance to say something meaningful, to stand for something, to truly believe in a better world creating their own platform to be heard from. To this end Minnesota Women/Femmes/Trans/Non-Binary Folk songwriting collective was started in late 2019, its aim to support and raise awareness for sexual assault survivors and raising funds for Planned Parenthood and is part of a new emerging wave which is aiming to stand against the gathering clouds and shine a light in the dark to highlight injustice and promote tolerance and equality. Who could deny that the world always needs people to do that, perhaps never more so than now?
Personally, not only is the album a much-needed step to those ends, it also features plenty of artists which I have already written about and in many cases have fallen in love with, musically speaking. Here they take on the subject of “MeToo” and deliver songs which are often as challenging as they are reassuring. And why not?
It kicks off in no uncertain terms with Ashleigh Still’s Not Fuckin’ Around, lyrically straight to the point but musically lilting and gentle, like a sucker punch which is delivered in a silk glove. It simultaneously feels great and leaves you with a broken (metaphorical) jaw. And if you think that this song is merely an opening salvo designed to grab your attention before things settle down, it isn’t long before we find Mary Bue wrestling with How To Forgive Your Rapist, as if the onus is on the victim to smooth things over and be the better person. They where always the better person and again the response is the only one imaginable…Fuck You!
Sarah Morris’ gorgeously soft and seductive tones come as a stark contrast to her story of blind faith in misguided beliefs, media spin, that just because you are the loudest doesn’t mean that you are correct. Deft and spacious guitar work, a wonderfully buoyant vibe and anthemic quality deal with issues which are as prevalent in the home as they are in the highest office in the land.
It’s a great collection of folky Americana, smart pop and conscious roots music. I Know That Sound sees Annie Fitzgerald blending shimmering and dream-like indie sheens with understated acoustica, Katy Vernon delivers an upbeat, euphoric and life affirming call to arms and a reminder to Shine and JØUR rounds things off with the wonderfully drifting and hazy Won’t Stop Me Now, not just a cool slice of modern, alternative, ambient, indie-pop but a statement of intent and slogan in its own right. And that is just a tip of the seventeen song iceberg found here; seventeen artists with seventeen important messages, seventeen powerful and poignant songs.
This is the second time in a week that I have written about an album and used the word important. Music can be many things, seductive, well-crafted, infectious, soothing, empowering and subject to a hundred other adjectives but rarely can it be described as it important. MeTooMpls is an important album!
There are some people who think that music is a matter of life and death. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.