Andrew McKnight,
Something Worth Standing For
(Falling Mountain, 2008)

Always a socially conscious writer and performer, Andrew McKnight gets political on his new CD, Something Worth Standing For, a move he credits to becoming the father of a baby girl during "the years since the towers fell and the wars began." The opening song, "Times We're Living In," is about just that, our times. It catalogues the wrongs we've suffered and those we've caused and asks if:

" steal from the people, was that Jesus' teaching ...
Is this what it comes to, power and preference,
executive privilege, for or against us,
wrapped in the flag, discredit dissenters
while they tear down all we hold dear....

To its credit, the song does not sound as prolix and preachy as its lyrics might suggest. All of the songs deal in some way with our times, even when McKnight goes back into our past, offering up Woodie Guthrie's "Worried Man Blues" or the Carter Family medley, "Wildwood Flower" and "The Old Hundred Road." These songs are rearranged to bring out their modernity, their connection to the present moment.

McKnight sings of murdered civil rights workers in the deep South, the government's tendency to spy on its citizens, the loss of family farms -- it's a familiar litany, but McKnight is careful to make it personal; he does not, like so many artists, simply catalogue the actions and scream, "Evil, evil!" Instead, he writes that:

In spite of all your troubles, all you need is on your back,
believe in your blessings, don't worry about all you lack.

He might be aware of the dark side of our times, but Andrew McKnight remains an optimist.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

19 July 2008

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