Freedom and Weep
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2005, Volume 12, #8
Written by John Metzger
The Waco Brothers has made a career out of pitting its Joe Strummer-esque inclinations against its Mick Jagger-ish posturing, but rarely has this unique dichotomy worked as well in the studio as it has in concert. On its latest outing Freedom and Weep, however, the band makes its most concerted effort since 1999ís Waco World to avoid trying to duplicate the blood and guts fury of its live performances. While the end result is, perhaps, more polished than one might expect, it also is more mature, more accessible, and remarkably more engaging than much of what the ensemble has released in the past.
For the record, Freedom and Weepís songs are sung with a snarl, but its underlying music is delivered with a certain semblance of restraint. Although the bulk of the outing is propelled by the Waco Brothersí knack for concocting angst-filled, rhythmic tension, it also is carefully shaded with the textural layers of guitar, mandolin, and pedal steel. Indeed, it seems that after all this time, the Waco Brothers finally has crafted a radio-friendly batch of material, all of which would fit quite comfortably within the context of a typical classic-rock station. In fact, for once it feels as if the band actually found the album-making process to be an agreeable affair. Indeed, the groupís performance throughout Freedom and Weep is lively and vibrant, and consequently, the selections ó be it the acoustic, country-tinged ballad Iíve Come a Long Way or the galloping cow-punk of Secrets ó sounds fresher than most like-minded endeavors.
The reason, perhaps, behind the Waco Brothersí newfound, organic approach may lie within the reoccurring thematic message that binds together Freedom and Weepís disparate selections. Although the band consistently has positioned itself as a voice for the working man, its attention increasingly has turned towards larger, more worldly issues. Fantasy, for example, skewers Americaís infatuation with reality television and celebrity culture. Reignited by George W. Bushís imperialistic rule, the group takes direct aim at Christian fundamentalists (Missing Link), the intertwining of faith and politics (Chosen One), and the Presidentís re-election (The Rest of the World). By concluding with its rousing pep talk Join the Club, the Waco Brothers successfully unites its past and present visions into a electrifying call-to-arms that allows Freedom and Weep to stand as its most focused outing to date.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box