In the light of hindsight, and the current state of political affairs in the USA, the album “Ruffled Feathers: Songs in the Key of Me”, may take on all kinds of connotations and receive varied critical responses, depending which side of the fence you’re sitting on. But one thing is crystal clear from the beginning, husband and wife duo, Sugarcane Jane are proudly pro-Trump, and they state as much in their single “That’s What I See”: “Now how can you hate a man who clearly loves his country, I heard he’s doing it for free, at least that’s what I see. How can you hate a man who clearly loves his country. He’s not perfect but then again neither are you or me, that’s what I see.”
“We felt we had no choice but to come out in support of President Trump,” the couple told The Federalist. “The man has been taking body blows for the last four years undeservedly, yet still continuing to accomplish so much for the American people.” But that’s just part of the story.
Sugarcane Jane is Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee – a husband-wife duo from Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Between them, they have decades of musical experience: Anthony’s an in-demand multi-instrumentalist and producer who has worked with such notables as Neil Young, Steve Winwood, and Dwight Yoakam.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Anthony Crawford at Admiral Bean Studio, “Ruffled Feathers: Songs in the Key of Me” is Sugarcane Jane’s 10th album. So don’t expect any inconsistencies or hesitancies, this is a well-oiled machine that ploughs an Americana furrow with a strong leaning towards Southern rock and Roots elements.
It turns out that applying the duo’s empathetic, yet mordant songwriting, to their socio-political views makes for both a dramatic and enjoyable listen. As it is, the record doesn’t hit you with the heavy stuff right away. The Country-like opener “Feelings in a Song” lives in familiar and nostalgic musical territory with its steely and twangy guitars.
The second and third tracks, “I’m Gonna Grow Me A New Mind” and “The Answer Of The Day”, are bright acoustic driven rockers. The first advises to stand up and point out what’s wrong with the world and not have your mind controlled by others. The second turns up the intensity and the emotional quotient. Crawford and Lee’s voices blend and build to a searing refrain and chorus that is hard to ignore.
The steady forward motion and thumping drums of “Good Book Stories”, brings us to another highlight. “Waiting on Answers” is a powerful song made more so because of the unforgettable guitar motifs. The voices again build brilliantly together in this song, leading to some more achingly passionate vocal deliveries by Crawford and Lee.
“It is the media I squarely lay the blame. Looking for a tragedy to shove it in our brain,” sing Sugarcane Jane on “Let the Media Die”, once again showcasing their outspoken narratives and clear-cut views. “If we all got together turned her off at once instead of looking at our phone. We’d talk a walk and have some lunch.”
The fact that Sugarcane Jane have no fear in airing their personal views is made clear in “Long Overdue”: “Is it worth the price of losing fair-weathered friends? Yes it is, it is, it is. Goodbye.” Following the aforementioned single, “That’s What I See”, we have “Waking up America” – a total guitar jamboree and angsty anger-filled anthem.
“Cities are burning people in the street wearing black and ninja outfits,” howls Anthony Crawford. “They’re just babies underneath. Come out to the country, come on if you dare. You might find you’re taking your last breath there.” This is certainly one of the most persuasive and impressive tracks on, “Ruffled Feathers: Songs in the Key of Me”.
The album finally closes with the sprawling instrumental “Holy Spirit”, and while it seems like the political situation will have changed by the next time Sugarcane Jane hits the studio, I have no doubt that Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee will still be in an extremely proactive mood, strongly pushing forward their ideals and values. Probably more so than ever!
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