Bluntfield doesn’t have the answers, he doesn’t pretend to, Strange Times is more about raising important questions, making the listener ask the why’s and the what ifs? That has got to be better, hasn’t it? What we have here is a year in the life of a country on the brink, a diary entry, one which documents its progress from the growing social unrest sparked by the attitudes and actions of the powers that be, through the politics of pandemic, to the spectacle Trumpian endgame which continues to evoke blind faith and abject disgust in equal measure.
As a song it sort of wanders between switched-on hip-hop and brooding baroque pop, mixing deft raps with depth-charge bass vocals, the former firing off salvos of questioning and concise rap-attacks, the latter resonating majestically below the surface. Throw in some sultry and searing saxophone and a buoyant beat and you have one heck of a song, one which doesn’t follow the rules, is unconcerned by fad and fashion and which is the perfect documenter of many people’s collective thoughts and feelings.
Music can be more than just throw away fun, it can have a much more serious purpose. And although as a song Strange Times ticks all the boxes regarding entertainment and art, it is also a record of the mindsets and machinations of our times and as such will prove to be as important to the musical canon as protest songs or conscious soul, disenfranchised punk or hip-hop’s calls for social change as reference for the times that we are living through.
History might be written by the winners, in the long run at least, but art in general and music in particular is an amazing vessel for the truth, for the thoughts and feelings of the people on the street, at the sharp end of such tumultuous times. What will people make of such music 50 years from now when those at the top have smoothed the history books out and edited the narratives to present their own version of events? What indeed? And that is the whole point.