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War Hippies (from War Hippies on War Hippies LLC) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Despite the fact that War Hippies’ eponymous debut marks their first foray into the recording world, it provides a decidedly despondent view of the things that accompany the first flush of fame and success. Opening track “Killin’ It” sums up those conflicting feelings precisely:
‘Another sold out show,
Out here on the road,
Got a little fame,
Working with some big names,
Everybody says I’m on my way
Write up in Rolling Stone…
Everybody says I’m killing it…
But I’m feeling nothing at all…’
One would think that it’s too early to feel such dire disappointment, especially given the fact they seem to be on an upward roll. Nevertheless, the duo — Scooter Brown and Donnie Reis — seemed resigned to the reality that even early acclaim can brings with it its own set of obstacles Both war vets, they maintained separate careers touring the world alongside such luminaries as Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, and Charlie Daniels before banding together. Those experiences inform their work, and infuse songs such as “The Hangman” (‘dead man walking’), a turgid take on Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, the forlorn “No Friend of Mine”, and the quiet, contemplative “Leavin’ Sense” with sobering tones and, at times, even darker despair. Reis’ violin infuses the music with its dramatic designs, but it’s the feeling of remorse and reflection that leave the most lingering impressions.
That said, “Make It Out Alive” shares the renewed faith that comes when one is given a second chance to show appreciation for the people in their life. Brief instrumental snippets of “Amazing Grace” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” underscore that spiritual sensibility. So too, the tender, touching ballads “Believer” and “Promises” suggest that hope and fulfillment may not be so far out of reach after all. Other offerings — “American Son” in particular — share a determined drive and delivery, conveying the same rugged regimen plied by other heartland heroes — Fogerty, Mellencamp, Seder, and Springsteen, among them.
Ultimately, War Hippies makes for a powerful initial effort, although some may find it a challenging listen given its pervading melancholia. Hopefully with future efforts, these self-described hippies will find an equally riveting reason to rejoice. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of War Hippies from AMAZON
Please go to the War Hippies website for more purchase and artist information
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