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Radical Songs for Rough Times

October 2020

"On the antlers of an elk

 on the hooves of a goat

 in the amber of your brain

 in the shaking of a shadow"

          from Ned Ludd & Queen Mab

Snow Owl
SWINDLEDan Hanrahan
00:00 / 03:18

Artists of all kinds have felt a need to respond to the current cultural moment. Radical Songs for Rough Times, an album of original material by Chicago-based songwriter Dan Hanrahan, offers one such response. Drawing on the rich tradition of American political protest music, Hanrahan also looks to the balladry of the British Isles — from the anti-imperial strains of 200-year-old folk songs to the work of Billy Bragg and The Clash — for inspiration. A fluent speaker of Spanish and Portuguese who has translated poetry and songs in both languages, Hanrahan found musical pathways, too, in such non-Anglo sources as Brazilian Tropicalia, Trova and Kurt Weill. Mixed by Alan Weatherhead at his Richmond, VA, studio (Weatherhead, like Hanrahan, got his start in the early-nineties Milwaukee music scene before moving south and working with Camper Van Beethoven, Daniel Johnston, Sparklehorse, and other indie artists), the album features arrangements echoing the spare folk-rock palette of producer Joe Boyd’s early work (Nick Drake, Richard Thompson). The twelve songs here, ranging broadly in their concerns, are united by subtle melodies and structures, poetic imagery, thoughtful engagement, and wit. 

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