Maren Morris’ “Better Than We Found It”
Not gonna lie, this made me tear up a little. As part of the video for her new single, former Arlingtonian and current international superstar Maren Morris allows disenfranchised voices to tell their stories in their own words. The song, “Better Than We Found It,” is inspiring enough, but letting her subjects speak — Dreamers about to be kicked out of our country after spending their entire lives here, a Black family of a victim of police violence, and two do-gooding teens — represents a step that most artists, especially country artists, are just too afraid to take. Tiny and unimposing, Morris stands like a giant among them.
And with some of them. More and more white country artists (is “white country artist” a redundancy?) are coming forward to promote social justice causes. They’re certainly not “bro country,” but they’re still under the same red, white, and blue umbrella. Working in a genre geared toward red-state America, these singer-songwriters are sacrificing thousands if not millions of dollars by standing up for what is right. Morris isn’t only forfeiting stacks of Benjamins. She’s generating it. In this case, a portion of proceeds from the sale of “Better Than We Found It” will be donated to the Black Women’s Health Imperative, the first nonprofit created by Black women to “help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls.” Visit BWHI.org.
The best part is that the song is simply great. It’s catchy and heartfelt without seeming derivative or maudlin. And when it comes to political art, the thing that shuts up all the naysayers is a quality product, and “Better Than We Found It” is a quality product of the highest order.
Sonar Lights’ “Brink of Failure”
Most of all, I love Sonar Lights for claiming “Fort Worth” instead of “Dallas,” which is unusual for bands of this hard-rocking, metallic stripe. I guess when reaching for the stars, bands think movers and shakers will notice “Dallas” way more easily than “Fort Worth” on promo sheets. And for another reason, cock rock is unnecessarily maligned. Sure, it’s associated with tough white guys, but that musicianship has to count for something. Right?
Sonar Lights does cock rock one better by standing for something. Good. Percolating beneath original audio of George Orwell reading his famous quote about dictatorships, the trio’s thundering, Tool-esque riffage and rhythms conjure a hellscape, maybe/possibly one where the religiously righteous “law and order” contingent has assumed total control. The black-and-white art accompanying “Brink of Failure” by Basilisk Studios is of several silhouetted figures in front videoing Lady Liberty as she is consumed by smoke. Visit SonarLights.bandcamp.com.
The Matthew Show’s “The Lake Worth Monster”
Lots of Robert Earl Keen vibes in The Matthew Show’s slow-burning paean to Fort Worth. The colorful, evocative lyrics and Matthew Broyles’ strong yet friendly voice make “The Lake Worth Monster” one of the best tracks written about our fair burgh ever. Recorded with Taylor Tatsch (Maren Morris, Summer Lane Emerson, Cut Throat Finches), the song couldn’t be any prettier and thoughtful, though Broyles is clearly suffering, maybe a little bit life, definitely a lotta bit Music-with-a-capital-M.
“Now I’m driving up tollways / With polite little trees / And I’m driving up Northside / Past cemeteries / That remind me of how little / Time that I’ve got left to be / Whatever I’ll be / And I want to love all / Of the people I love / And I want to drink life / From a big Showdown cup / And I don’t want to leave all / Of this damage I leave / And the rent keeps on rising / I wonder how long I can be / A part of this big tapestry.”
Visit TheMatthewShow.bandcamp.com. — Anthony Mariani
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