There has always been a social and political undercurrent to My Politic’s songs. Stories as songs, narratives about family and traditions, the working man, tales of the home, the hearth, of hope and reflection and the American spirit all wound into gentle mythologies and relatable histories. But something has changed for My Politic since 2017’s 12 Kinds of Lost album. The world they see out of their window is a vastly different place under Donald J Trump. Their initial dismay has turned into discomfort, discomfort into frustration, frustration into horror… horror at the unfolding events on the American political landscape under his administration. So now the gloves are off. Instead of songs with subtle hidden depths and neat analogies, Short – Sighted People In Power, as the name suggests, goes for the jugular.
Listen to the opening lines of The Wrong Side and your reaction will fall into one of two obvious camps. Some will dismiss the music out of hand as being the product of bleeding-heart liberals who need to man up and stop being snowflakes, others will think think, wow, here’s a band that thinks like I do. “Brown kids in cages, black bodies on the ground,” perhaps the most powerful opening line of any song I have ever heard. And I’ve heard a lot! But perhaps the audience who needs to hear this are the ones in the middle ground, the ones who prefer to remain politically ignorant, who think that such issues don’t affect them. This is a song about events happening in America today, the only thing that you need to ask yourself is this. Are you okay with this? Are you really?
And each of the 7 songs takes a similarly controversial but necessary theme, all put to gentle and lilting, acoustic folk songs, understated, straight to the point, unadorned and all the more powerful for it. From the man at the top to immigration, the right wing media, to voter suppression and the Republican Party themselves, this is an album which is perfect for the state of play in the USA today because it will divide its audience in exactly the way that current politics does.
But what such an album does have on its side is that it is straight-talking, honest, clear-headed and whilst many won’t agree with its sentiments, you can’t say the you don’t know what it stands for. And it is such transparency which is missing from the American landscape today. There is a part of me which thinks such a collection of songs will find more traction outside of the country which produced it than amongst the people who most need to hear its message. Speaking as a Brit, I have to say that we have our own set of politically imposed disasters to navigate, also propagated by right-wing power-players who see us as pawns in their game. But the difference is where America goes in the modern age, the rest of the world follows and already we see moves out of the Trump playbook being adopted by our own would-be demagogues.
Short – Sighted People In Power might come off as a rootsy, country-folk fusion but its importance transcends such a sonic description. It comes from the same disenfranchised place which spawned punk, hip-hop, even rock and roll itself, and any and all movements born of being outside, forgotten, exploited, ignored and used by those in power.
I rarely describe albums as being “important,” it’s just music after all, but this is an important album. In fact it is more like the voice of millions of people, the, up until now, silent masses suddenly being heard above the white noise of argument and entrenchment, media hype and political spin. It is a reminder of the power of protest music and the platform which artists have available to them, should they be smart enough to use it.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, still reading the review at this point should buy this album. Actually, everyone still reading the review at this point MUST buy this album.