Album: Ry Cooder, Election Special (Nonesuch)

 

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The Independent Culture

What it says on the tin. Kicks off with "Mutt Romney Blues" and skulks though "The Wall Street Part of Town" via "Guantanamo" while considering "The 90 and the 9"…

You get the picture. Cooder in overt political mode, the filthy liberal – a short, sharp dose of the spirit of Woody Guthrie, minimalistically recorded on mandolin, guitar and bass with his son at the drums. Blues, country, a hint of gospel, plus swingeing blows of the patent Keith Richards open-tuning chopper. What's not to like?

Actually, some of the lyric conceits are slightly clumsy, but in a way that only adds to the rawness and liveliness of the listening experience. And the bit where Cooder imagines the introduction of segregation in the White House is worth the price of entry alone.

There is a haunted quality to the album: it is short and heartfelt and unencumbered with musicological pedantry. It's less about Cooder's sense of indignation and righteousness than the colours of his despair. You might even argue that this and its predecessors, My Name Is Buddy (2007) and Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (2011), represent the most cogent work of his long career.

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