27 August 2017 (released)
30 September 2017
Whenever the right wing becomes the establishment in Washington D.C., music gets reinvigorated with a new sense of purpose. In times of governmental belligerence, malice and indifference for the lower and middle classes, the music community rises back up with biting commentary and cries for unity that acts to quell the destructive rhetoric that fuels resurgences of bigotry and abuse of power. There is, of course, the unbridled fury of bands like Rage Against the Machine but folk music has equality captured the spirit of resistance. Guthrie, Seeger, Young, Dylan, all used their six strings to fight fascists.
Bay Area singer-songwriter Eric Anders latest album, Eleven Nine disseminates the tumultuous and incomprehensible time since the embodiment of America's disgraces, Donald Trump became president-elect on the ninth day of the eleventh month last year. The record is a career-spanning collection of political material which has only increased in relevance in the current era with three new songs written exclusively for this release. With the acoustic guitar and Anders heart-wrenching voice at the heart of the songs, Eleven Nine is pointed, affecting and unabashed.
The first of the new songs, 'The Fire Has Burned Too Long' has a sluggish malaise to it, echoing the frustration and disbelief so many have in the wake of that bewildering election. Anders tries to hold a torch of hope but as the title suggests, he is unsure if America can recover from this. Like a bluesy lament for a dead relationship, piano plods, guitar strums earnestly and the lap steel sings the moans of lost potential. The accompanying video of stock footage of Trump's political career so far in black and white is a deeply disconcerting illustration of how far we've sunk so far. The cover to follow of CCR's 'Who Will Stop the Rain' relives the same idea with a different metaphor.
The two other new tracks are 'Inside The Sacrifice Zone' and 'Do You Feel?'. The former is a sombre piano ballad broadcasting from within a crisis. Anders mournful narration of mistaken actions is bolstered by Anika Reichert's beautiful backups, delicate drumming, and more lap steel swells. The later sits on sludgy overdriven guitar spilling over like a broken levee. Anders goes from narrator to pointed questioner. The Neil Young-style sarcasm and disdain is prevalent.
Eleven Nine is not necessarily a joyous listen but it does resonate with the weltschmerz (a beautifully eloquent German world for world-weariness) that much of us are feeling right now. The purity in Anders' voice reminds us of what we can be when we overcome our base instincts and work together for a better world. Hopefully, that ideal is coming back to the masses soon.