Its been a long time since political folk rock was hitting mainstream audiences, whilst at the heights of the genre The Levellers were playing the main stage at Glastonbury, nowadays you only tend to hear it early doors at small tents or at folk specific festivals. But it is an important genre, 2020 has seen many protests around the country and the music can be just as valid a form of protest.
Nomad Dooley’s new album ‘Trying to Survive’ is proof that the spirit of protest hasn’t disappeared from the music scene. The title track ‘Trying to Survive’ sets the tone for the album with passionate lyrics that paint a dark picture of life at the moment. This can be seen in other songs such as ‘Money Alone’ and ‘The Freedom Fighter’. The latter of which is inspired by Che Guevara.
The political nature of these songs gives the album a bigger dimension than one of just entertainment it challenges you to think about the world around you.
If politics isn’t for you there’s other songs on the album. ‘Billy’ is a great ballad that entices you with hypnotic violin melodies. Or ‘Last Ride’ a beautiful love song about spending lives together. And It wouldn’t be a folk album without a good old-fashioned drinking tale such as ‘A Cornish Memory’. It’s this song that has the folk attitude of freedom and good times, songs that are made to be shared and enjoyed with others.
Whilst the attitude and passion can be seen in the lyrics and the feel of the album. The music can seem basic at times. In particular the song ‘If Life Was’ feels very repetitive, the rhythm feels like it gets to the end stops abruptly then repeats and even though the lyrics in even verse change it all feels too repetitive. The music on the album is very much similar to the kind of festival campfire music, which isn’t a bad thing as I said before the spirit of folk music is to be shared and enjoyed with friends. But the those wanting more the music can leave you hungry.
Musically speaking ‘Trying to Survive’ won’t appeal to everyone, its not the type of music that will have you up and dancing around like The Levellers. But it is worth listening to messages the album speaks, ones of freedom and protest but also love and friendships.