The problem with most protest music, well, protest in general I guess, is that it spends so much time knowing what it stands against that it doesn’t really know what it stands for and even if it does, it offers few solutions. What we need is a positive protest, bi-partisan protest, informed protest, protest which knows where it comes from but also knows where it is going, protest which can both act as an opposition and equally as a suggestion as to the way forward. What we need is Keegan McInroe’s Good Old Fashion Protest.
Keegan’s latest collection of songs has an interesting resonance with another album which passed through the review pile recently, that of Nick Harper and The Wilderness Kids. If Nick’s titular, opening salvo of Lies! Lies! Lies! is an Englishman’s response to the confusion and turmoil of the Brexit decision, amongst other things, its parallel, Talking Talking Heads clearly defines this American’s view of the blind faith, ultra-partisan, tribalism being piped into homes across the country he calls home in the name of democracy.
And whilst it certainly has something important to say, Keegan, as always, has an eloquent way with words and the humour running through the songs, from cynicism to satire to just plain silliness is the real charm, adds fun and accessibility to what in the hands of most would be the creative equivalent of taking sledgehammer to a walnut. But whilst at times, such as on Bombing For Peace, there is the same sly grin that infused Arlo Guthrie’s infamous debut, Alice’s Restaurant, the flip side of the coin comes with subtle and poignant pieces like Christmas 1914, a gentle and lilting song which deserves to be granted access to that small canon of classic songs which includes The Green Fields of France and The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. And if you think that is too a grand statement to make, I ask you to play it and tell me I’m wrong.
We are treated to spoken word philosophy, visions of a better world, speaking of truth to power, the profound and the profane, small town narratives and universal truths, social commentary and political calling out, all put to his trademark country-folk acoustica. It is an album for our times, as much a reflection of the world around us as it is a call for change. It would be nice if in a few years time we can look back and think of this as a piece of history but I feel that such is the state of the world that Keegan McInroe could find enough material to put out such an album every six months or so. And that is the saddest truth of them all.