Using the kind of slap-back delay that John Lennon favoured for his vocal, Kathy Ingraham delivers an impassioned performance that’s reminiscent of Linda Perry circa 4 Non-Blondes’ ubiquitous hit What’s Up? In fact, when you get to the chorus, you might be tempted to sing out the ‘hey-ey-ey…’ line yourself. If that’s implying that the song has stolen something, it’s not meant to. This is a call to arms that is all about unity; standing together – the last thing it’s about is apathy or confusion.
Although the song is called America Rise Up, the word ‘America’ never features in the lyrics. If there’s a political statement lurking behind this piece, it’s too oblique for me to pick up on. It sounds like an intentional anthem to me: full of aspirational language, flourishes of gospel ad-libbing and a choir of supporting voices adding warming colours that bloom into the arrangement as the piece progresses.
We then get an extensive American-sounding guitar solo about two-thirds of the way through, adding some space and expression before the song climbs out on a final euphoric chorus.
The production values are pretty high for America Rise Up, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why there is so much ‘noise’ at the start of the track. It has the effect of sounding like it’s either an old recording that’s been recently discovered, or is a deliberate ploy to make the piece feel historically-relevant. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t detract from a classic piece of songwriting. Come on, America – you’d better do as it says.