tue 20/08/2019

CD: School Of Language - 45 | reviews, news & interviews

CD: School Of Language - 45

CD: School Of Language - 45

Field Music’s David Brewis probes Donald Trump

School Of Language's '45': not a protest album

Finding snapshots to characterise Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign and its aftermath is a tall order. There are so many, and assembling them could result in a wearying cavalcade of the all-too familiar. Whether in book form – such as Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury – or film – say, the new Steve Bannon documentary The Brink – the net result is largely to validate existing viewpoints. Such well-trodden ground begs for new approaches.

With the Trump-themed 45, Field Music’s David Brewis reassumes the School of Language persona he last adopted in 2014. Over 10 tracks and 33 minutes, he has not made a protest album or even a polemic. Although there’s an analogy with Phil Ochs’s debut album All the News That’s Fit to Sing, he eschews personal comment in favour of dispassionate first-person commentary. In this respect, 45 is closer to a John Adams opera than a conventional state-of-play concept album. “A Beautiful Wall”, “Lock Her Up”, “Rocket Man” and their companions are the equivalent of short stories.

Musically, three tracks aside, the setting is a clipped funk-pop along the lines of the recent Field Music, the David Bowie of “Fashion”, Bowie/Queen’s “Under Pressure” and a bare-bones Talking Heads. Adrian Belew-style guitar is never far away. Of the non-rhythm focussed cuts, “Lock Her Up” is the standout. Written from Hilary Clinton’s perspective, a drifting, John Lennon-esque melody features the lyrics “I put my career on hold… I thought that we could change some things if I played the doting wife like Barbara or Nancy… I learned to bite my lip.” It climaxes with Brewis plaintively singing “and then they say lock her up.”

Throughout, the tone is incredulity: how did it come to this? By favouring subtlety, David Brewis expresses his astonishment more powerfully than if he had taken a sledgehammer to this particular nut.

‘45’s’ tone is incredulity: how did it come to this?

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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