Fred Gillen Jr.
CD review by Roger-Z (12/22/15)
Fred Gillen Jr. carries the musical mantle of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger while leading the charge inspired by the Occupy movement to take back our country. Gillen wrote, produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered the record in a crisp, clear, clean fashion at his own studio, Woody's House, in Croton-on-Hudson NY. Musicians include Gillen (vocals, guitar, bass, drums, glockenspiel, percussion), Laura Bowman (vocals), Paul J. Magliari (drums), and Matt Turk (mandolin, vocals).
I prefer the subtle approach. But poetry and humor often soften necessary bluntness. The instrumental "4 a.m. Walk Home" perfectly captures the melancholy mood of the ninety-five percent. The ominous, jagged rap-rock of "The American Dreamer" mirrors The Doors' "The End." "The American dreamer finally slips into deep sleep, his rapid eye movie over... All is quiet on the Western Hemisphere. The End. A gentle fade to black." Using a more straight-forward approach, Gillen rails against hypocrisy in "Occupy Your Own Mind." "We lie to our children. We pretend and we amend. Then we wonder why they struggle. We wonder why they doubt. So many deceptions we could do without if we just had the courage to be real." "The Killing Machine" re-tells the "Rambo" tale. "They decorated me ceremoniously, the governor was there and three generals too. I got my medals. I was on TV. But now what am I supposed to do? ‘cause there is no job for a killing machine back here in civilization... And now I’m home, but there is no home for a newly retired killing machine."
Many of Gillen's tunes turn into sing alongs, no matter how sad the topic. Speaking of the "Cost of War," "You can find it in wards of VA hospitals trying to get home. The cost of war is counted in families, mothers and fathers, who will never come home." "We The People" focuses on the positive. "We the people, equal in God's eyes. We the people, beautiful and strong. We can't change the past but we are the future if we try. We the people equal in God's eyes." In the anthemic "Walking Down That Freedom Highway," "I'm walking down that freedom highway taking my time, taking my time. If you run they get suspicious. If you run they shoot you down. You've got to walk, your head held high when you're freedom bound.
The album ends looking upward with "I Dreamed I Saw Pete Seeger." "I dreamed I saw Pete Seeger. He was standing on a hill singing to the moon and clouds. The world was cool and still... He found some folks who'd listen in the classrooms and the streets. He sang his song for anyone and everyone he'd meet. Soon his song was everywhere in the air like oxygen." Wage love, not war!©2015 Roger-Z