Carsie Blanton Delivers Catchy and Soulful Protest Album with ‘Love & Rage’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

On her latest, Carsie Blanton delivers quite possibly the catchiest protest album in years. Themes of protest and justice are slathered all over Love & Rage, but the lyrics are delivered by Blanton’s sublimely smooth vocals and occasionally punctuated with horns, jazz drumming and rock guitars, making for a fantastically irreverent mix.

The album opens with the 2021 appropriate “Party At The End of the World,” an infectious gem that sets the tones perfectly for what follows. Like on 2019’s Buck Up, Blanton has a chameleon-like ability to be just about everything to everyone; a thoughtful chronicler of turbulent times who’s not afraid to toss off lyrical bombs now and then; but also someone willing to throw on the party dress and “dance with the beautiful girls.” There is no doubt Blanton could make it solely as a songwriter, as tracks like “Be Good” or “Shit List” could have made John Prine a little envious, but her voice is just as powerful. On a record crammed with great songs, “Shit List” is a standout, serving as shots fired to all modern-day fascists. It was written shortly after the 2017 Charlottesville riots, not too far from where Blanton lives. “The scariest thing about fascism is that we’ve done it before, and we keep thinking we’ve beat it; we think its name is Hitler, or McCarthy, or Trump, and that it dies with those names. We won’t beat it until we learn to see it, name it, and organize against it,” she said recently. Appropriately enough, the song’s video includes footage from the January 6th insurrection of the capitol building, nicely bookending the Trump presidency.

Lest you think Blanton has gone full Rage Against The Machine, she balances the sociopolitical songs with lighter, but equally satisfying fare like “I Can’t Wait To Break Your Heart” and “Is That So Bad”.

Over the course of the nearly two decades, Blanton has managed to carve out a distinctly inventive sound that may draw subtle influences from folks like Prine but is still a remarkably individual voice.

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