Americana in a reasonably gentle set of colours here (despite the subject matter), as Josef McManus’ White Owl Red sets out its stall with a careful political agenda: ‘Just tryin’ to make things a little better’.
A rolling and tuneful backing track lends authentic support to the softly-sung thoughts about the undisputed horrors caused by rampant income inequality that will inevitably prompt this kind of song – in countries where the regime in control allow such things, at least!
With its roots in folk protest songs (and its title very obviously harking back to the John Lennon classic), Working Class Heroes is unpretentious, direct and honest – three very important qualities for successful communication with your audience. This feels confident and sure of its targets – the very first line pulls no punches: ‘Well, the fascists had us running…’
But musically it’s rather pretty and optimistic, interestingly – the beautifully played guitars, and that rolling, train-like rhythm drive ever onward – as the laid-back vocal meanders and hangs on certain syllables with its western twang to deliver a thoughtful treatise on the situation: ‘I ain’t tryin’ to cause anarchy’.
A harder guitar sound works to drive more edge into proceedings, climbing to a howl as the song reaches its conclusion and is maybe in place to hint at the steel backbone and resolve behind the caveats and consideration in the lyrics…
Altogether now, ‘let’s stand up for truth, love and dignity…’
A song with heart and a rigid moral compass, delivered with conviction and skill. What more can you ask?