Ry Cooder | Election Special

Nonesuch (2012)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  August 14, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars


Ry Cooder's spur-of-the-moment (or is it heat-of-the-moment?) political album opens like any good political album should, with a rollicking blues song told from the point of view of Mitt Romney's dog. Who has the blues if not Mitty Cent's forsaken pooch? Maybe the incumbent president, pacing the floor of the White House to a slow 12-bar shuffle ("Cold Cold Feeling")? Or one of the many neighborhood-watch xenophobes searching for righteousness in the dark (the swampy "Kool-Aid")? How about the soul-selling titans of the lobbying world at the center of the mandolin-driven folk hymn "Brother Is Gone"? Cooder, like a Keith Richards/Woody Guthrie hybrid, observes it all as a damn shame, with little condescension and oodles of wit. The eve-of-election song can be indelible when done right (see: Marvin Gaye's "You're the Man," Elvis Costello's "Pills and Soap"), and here Cooder, with only his son Joachim on drums, distills a contemporary climate into a lasting nine-song platter. Also, it's worth noting that the year's best handclap-driven party riff ("Guantanamo") is really about the depths of human depravity, and that's a pretty neat feat indeed.

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