Andrew Chicken sings excellent news for a hurting America

It’s laborious to know the place to show when confronted with tragedy. A few of us, after atrocities just like the mass shootings in Uvalde and Highland Park, pour our grief into look after others, volunteering and donating to reduction efforts. A few of us flip to activism and righteous anger. Others, unable (or unwilling) to acknowledge that the world is stuffed with horrors, flip to conspiracy theories and denial in an try and want all of the struggling away. Andrew Chicken turns to his violin; and on his newest album, “Inside Issues,” he takes a tough take a look at the ills of up to date America and wonders how on earth we bought right here.

Media protection of Chicken tends to concentrate on his musicianship, and rightly so. The veteran indie rocker typically springs from violin to guitar to glockenspiel to whistling inside the span of a single music. Due to Chicken’s classical coaching, this amalgamation by no means feels campy or gimmicky. His devices meld right into a seamless entire, turning into pure extensions of his warbling tenor. Chicken’s virtuosity and good humor have served him nicely; he has performed all over the place from huge pageant phases to late-night tv, from the TEDTalk Convention to Carnegie Corridor.

On his new album, Andrew Chicken takes a tough take a look at the ills of up to date America and wonders how on earth we bought right here.

What’s much less typically mentioned are Chicken’s lyrics—in all probability as a result of, for the primary 20 years of his profession, his lyrics have been as impenetrable as they have been imaginative. Although singer-songwriters are inclined to put on their hearts on their sleeves, Chicken prized obscure literary references and scientific motifs over private tales. As a substitute of affection songs, he wrote about the blindness of cave-dwelling animals. As a substitute of singing about want, Chicken demystified human copy: “You’re what occurs when two substances collide,” he sang on “The Mysterious Manufacturing of Eggs” (2005). There was one thing disarming about these early works. Chicken’s playful preparations typically cloaked troubling subject material. Even a cheerful music may grow to be concerning the apocalypse.

All this modified in 2016 with the discharge of Chicken’s ninth album, “Are You Severe.” Abruptly, the Grammy-nominated artist had exchanged environmental arcana for extra home subjects like heartbreak and parenthood. The explanation was easy. Chicken had fallen in love, gotten married and grow to be a father—experiences that he insists expanded his creative instincts slightly than limiting them. “Younger individuals assume the romance is over while you quiet down,” he advised The New Yorker in a video interview. For him, nothing could possibly be farther from the reality. “It’s simply starting,” he mentioned, shaking his head, trying slightly dazed.

The central theme of “Inside Issues” is the battle at each degree of the human expertise.

“Inside Issues”displays a brand new stage in Chicken’s creative trajectory. In 11 searing however tender tracks, the album combines Chicken’s early musical inventiveness, the vulnerability of his newer albums and a brand new sense of urgency—a desperation that by some means avoids despair.

The central theme of “Inside Issues” is the battle at each degree of the human expertise—amongst political events, between romantic companions and between warring halves of the psyche. “Atomized,” which borrows a melody from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, asks whether or not social media and its algorithms have strengthened or splintered our society—and our very selves. “They’re gonna attempt to get an increase to unseat you,” he sings. “They’ll demagnetize your poles…so now you’re atomized, unwhole.” “Eight” wistfully numbers the numerous methods people make themselves—and one another—depressing (“One simply reached for her gun/ Two’s slumped within the nook/ Three is making a plea for somebody to adore her”). In “Mounted Positions,” Chicken uneasily observes the best way our opinions ossify as we age (“You understand there actually isn’t a lot stopping/ The way in which you see the world cementing”). One will get the sense that the singer-songwriter is shaking his head on the state of the world whereas pondering his personal culpability in its woes.

Chicken is not any stranger to cultural commentary; prior to now, he has written about the whole lot from local weather disaster to the absurdity of standardized testing, albeit together with his trademark subtlety. However through the Trump period, his language acquired a brand new sharpness. “My Best Work But” (2019) lamented Trump’s outsized affect and puzzled how “such an abomination/ May very well be the person of the 12 months.” On “Cold,” Chicken painted a darkish image of America, warning that we’re engaged in “an uncivil struggle” that’s “cold/ For now.” These lyrics have been unsettling after they first appeared in 2019, and now, in a post-January sixth America, they’re downright eerie. By pointing to the inevitable strategy of bloodshed, Chicken all however predicted the Capitol riot.

Most stirring of all is the album’s title observe, on which Chicken marvels on the easy thriller of being alive.

“Inside Issues”visits related territory, this time with an elevated sense of bewilderment. Cease ’n Store” examines MAGA’s militant imagery (“Thought the wall was a gun/ And that the gun was a flag/ And that the flag was a truck/ And that the truck was a mighty hen of prey”). Throughout a latest stay efficiency on Instagram, Chicken defined that the music “asks the query of why we, as People, typically look to symbols like weapons, partitions, and vehicles for our id, and asks what’s lacking in our lives that makes us want to do this.”

If all of this sounds slightly heavy for an indie pop music, give “Cease ’n Store”—or, for that matter, any music on “Inside Issues”—a pay attention, and also you could be stunned by how joyful it feels. By becoming a member of heavy themes to buoyant and even whimsical musical stylings, Chicken accomplishes a kind of alchemy, making the unhealthy information simpler to bear and the excellent news—information about love, concerning the resiliency of household and the potential of peace—shine all of the brighter.

And there may be excellent news right here, tucked in amid all of the observations of struggling. Chicken has mentioned that he wrote the album nearer, “By no means Fall Aside,” in an try and reply his personal questions on what’s lacking in America. “Oh, pricey pal, received’t you communicate to me,” he intones in a Dylanesque lilt, “and I’ll pay attention.” The music’s refrain extolls the ability of affection to rework and to create bonds that can “by no means crumble.” Chicken appears to be questioning if individuals rush to extremist ideologies in quest of a way of belonging.

Most stirring of all is the album’s title observe, on which Chicken marvels on the easy thriller of being alive. “Each inch of us [is] a strolling miracle,” he sings. It’s laborious to imagine that this is identical man who as soon as described us all as “what occurs when two substances collide.”

What prompted this flip from world-weariness to marvel? We will solely speculate, however one suspects Chicken’s transition to household life might maintain the reply. Maybe Chicken himself is the strongest testomony to like’s transformative energy.