The Revolution Starts...Now
The Music Box's #10 album of 2004
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2004, Volume 11, #9
Written by John Metzger
There’s an I.R.S. audit lurking in Steve Earle’s not too distant future, and one gets the sense he just doesn’t care. Within the less than 40-minute span of his 12th studio album The Revolution Starts...Now, he rather hilariously professes his lust for National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice — "Skank for me Condi/Show me what you got/They say you’re too uptight/I say you’re not," he sings on Condi, Condi — and borrows a page from Dick Cheney’s book by telling the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and the F.C.C. to go fuck themselves.
Not one to shy away from conflict, Earle has been emboldened by those who called him a traitor and questioned his patriotism after the release of John Walker’s Blues, the single from his last outing Jerusalem that didn’t defend the infamous American Taliban’s actions so much as it tried to comprehend them. Throughout The Revolution Starts...Now, he once again exercises his Constitutional right to speak his mind, though he tones down the seething anger that pervaded much of Jerusalem in order to find a more persuasive, humanistic approach to sharing his points of view. As a result, his customarily mighty lyrics are all the sharper for it. On the Creedence Clearwater Revival-laced country-pop of Home to Houston, he plays the role of a truck driver who went to Iraq to earn a better paycheck only to realize that it wasn’t worth the risk to his life, and on Rich Man’s War, he empathetically examines how poor Americans and Palestinians pay the ultimate price when the only career path available to them is to become a foot soldier in somebody’s else’s ill-conceived master plan.
Musically, The Revolution Starts...Now continues the tunefully effective refrains of amped-up country and Beatle-esque pop that forever have filled Earle’s work. The radiant beams of a string quartet psychedelically drip with regret around The Gringo’s Tale; Warrior is fueled by a Jim Morrison-fronting-Crazy Horse intensity; and F the CC is a rampaging blast of whirling, punk-drenched guitars that is destined to become a show-closing, audience participation chant. Ultimately, however, the collection is skillfully designed to frame Earle’s politically-charged message and his hope that the times are, indeed, a-changin’.
47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Contemporary Folk Album
The Revolution Starts...Now is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box