The acceptance of anarchism as a serious political philosophy has waxed and waned, but two artists simultaneously releasing anarchist works in February may be a sign of a resurgence. Anarchist Gospel (New West Records) by Sunny War (Sydney Lyndella Ward) carries the most straightforward political message, though the new compilation by producer/author scott crow, Of Everything… and Nothing (eMERGENCY heARTS), puts crow’s activism in larger political and musical contexts.
Since relocating from Nashville to L.A., Ward has released five albums that follow a genre of acoustic folk-punk from women of color, represented by a powerful few from Tracy Chapman to Leyla McCalla. War sings powerful anthems like “Test Dummy” aimed at communities of color. She is joined by David Rawlings on more expansive rockers like “Shelter and Storm,” and even covers Ween’s “Baby Bitch” with a children’s choir as backup.
The work by crow is more diffuse, because many are instrumental works and certain songs serve primarily as pointers to his book on anarchist activism, Black Flags and Windmills. Collaborators range from Thor Harris to DJ Pane, and the track “The Triumph of Our Tired Eyes” featuring Televangel might be the most moving. The final cut is a slogan for crow, “Anarchy is the Way I See the World.” He will release a remix version of the album in April with more guests, including Meat Beat Manifesto.
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Shania Twain, Queen of Me (Republic Records) – This is only the sixth studio release by Twain since 1993, as she’s handled parenting, divorce and health challenges. Her shift from country to pop since 2017 has won Twain allies from Harry Styles to Post Malone, and the new album held promise as a feminist credo. Aside from standout tracks, though, the album displays only a half-hearted conviction. The opener, “Giddy Up!” holds exuberant promise, but clever riffs thereafter can’t hide a confusion in delivery.