REVIEW: DAVID RAMIREZ – WE’RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE (2017)

A brilliant condemnation of Trump’s America. Via loneliness and phone sex

“Our Fathers were drinkers, cos we sent them off to war. And I am drunk on a Tuesday cos I’m so fucking bored…..”

Welcome to the 21st Century, and welcome to “We’re Not Going Anywhere”.

It can’t be easy for an American with dual Mexican citizenship in America right now as their President makes ever more unhinged pronouncements, but it must be especially hard when you’re in England watching your country go to the dogs.

That premise forms the basis for the absolute standout song amongst these ten, “Stone Age”. Not only does it contain the wonderful lines that began this review, it also excoriates the followers of the main man in the White House. “I am having trouble seeing colours in the dawn’s early light” he says. “No one red, no more blue, all I am seeing is white.”

It would be tempting to see the title as some kind of patriotic statement in that context, but its so much more. And so is this album. Look at the cover. The two ladies enjoying life? That’s Ramirez’s mother and grandmother, both of whom survived breast cancer. That alone gives you a clue that this is intensely personal. It is also not easy listening. But then, these are not easy times.

“Twins” is sort of like Drive By Truckers at their absolute darkest. “Where were you when, we lost the twins” is its first line and with that “….Anywhere” is off and running.

Widescreen, yet rootsy, “Watching From A Distance” is ambitious, and deals with a long distance love affair gone wrong. It’s a theme he’ll return to later in the album, but in many ways “People Call Who They Want To Talk To” seems to be its counter balance. The jaunty nature of the music – sounding like some long lost Roy Orbison song – hides the heart-breaking lyrics, ones that will strike a chord with those who just can’t accept it’s over– not MV you understand……

So many musical styles clash here, but the album is perhaps at its best when it’s stripped back. “Time” is so fragile it sounds like it could shatter, like the life of the character in the lyrics, while “Good Heart” pits Ramirez in despair over a country-esque shuffle. “I am a ghost town, pretty charming till you come around” he sings.

The cross Atlantic woman is back on “Telephone Lovers” and even on a record that lays itself as bare as this one does, you guess this is especially raw. “Villain” has an eerie, almost nightmarish quality, but “Eliza Jane” is a beautiful slice of Americana about his own great-grandmother leaving Oklahoma in the depression.

There is a beauty in the bleakness here and even when it feels like its closing in, as on the title track, it is brilliantly done.

There are many ways to do singer/songwriter albums, but at their very best they are challenging documents of the world that informs them. David Ramirez is absolutely here to stay. “We’re Not Going Anywhere” is ample proof of that.

Rating 9/10