Album: Songs Of The Ungrateful Living
Label: Martyr Inc. Records
Recently, the world’s population supposedly passed the 7 billion person mark. Now of course, this is a very sensationalized event, the powers that be obviously have no way of knowing this for sure, there are many countries out there that don’t keep a census, along with countless other factors that make pinpointing the exact moment when the 7 billionth person was born absolutely impossible. But the same concept applies to the music industry; there is no way of knowing exactly how many bands are out there, but one thing is for sure, we’ve reached the point of overpopulation. But this is precisely the reason why I wasn’t very excited when this review came up, when I heard I was reviewing Everlast’s new album, Songs Of The Ungrateful Living, somehow I had confused Everlast with Everclear; right era, wrong artist. To be frank, I wasn’t excited, if there was ever a musician that needs to hang up the gloves it was the dude from Everclear with the bleach blonde hair and the goatee. My animosity towards this review completely vanished, I was actually rather excited to see what Everlast had managed to come up with, of course he went through that mid-90′s rap/country phase which, while unfortunate, was inevitable, and I was hoping this new album would showcase a more refined and mature interpretation of the basic country sound that he had mastered long ago, but managed to lose in the mix a bit. That country sensibility, when combined with his voice that was unique in the genre had so much potential create something really fantastic, yet it was also fairly likely that the album could fall victim to some other hybrid genre that just sort of worked; I remained cautiously optimistic though, I wanted to hear a materialization of the potential that I knew was there.
As much as I poke fun of Everlast’s odd genre mash-up, I will admit that I am certainly a fan; his song with Santana, “Put Your Lights On”, was a favorite of mine for years, and he has been a guest musician on albums alongside some of my favorite underground hip-hop musicians, so joke as I might, I was quite excited for Songs Of The Ungrateful Living, I just wanted to hear some evidence of the growth I knew he was capable of. And thankfully, that’s precisely what I found, this album gives off the vibe that Everlast has settled into his own sound, still certainly very unique, and taking the boundaries set by traditional country music to new heights, but it felt very comfortable and natural, and that’s exactly what I want to hear. He settled into a still-edgy country sound, complete with all the added flavors that make country so special; the banjo line on “Little Miss America” was absolutely perfect, and the lap steel on album opener, “Long At All”, set the tone for the entire album. There are still moments on this album to recall the old style of Everlast, with country music set to sampled drum beats, but at this point in his career, I can’t exactly list that as a fault, it’s more of a trademark. Everlast has definitely managed to fully capitalize on the signature sound that he created years ago, and take a bit further, resulting in an album that is more polished than anything released by Everlast in the past.
Naturally, any artist that has had guest appearances with the likes of Dilated Peoples and Ill Bill, and released a single of a Johnny Cash cover is going to have absolutely undying amounts of respect from me, but those sort of stats also suggest that he went through an identity crisis of sorts. Now don’t get me wrong, the music industry would be nowhere without those out there who bent the rules a bit, and so we all owe a lot to the mad scientists like Everlast who helped make music what it is. I’m just excited to see a new resolve from Everlast on this album; it is unmistakably an Everlast album, but it is also clear that this album is coming from an older, and more refined Everlast, just as it should be. Essentially, all his experimentation over the years has lead to this album, and I’d say that’s quite the worthwhile evolution.
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan