Music review

The folk and the fury

Joe Billy is an artist with a thing or two to say about the lives we live on this planet

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Covering topics from the complexities of doing something with life to the issues of homelessness in America, Joe Billy tackles the American status quo with his "Let 'Em Fall" release and smashed the preconceived notions of acoustic punk music.

Try, if you can, to ignore a songwriter like Billy as he furiously flies the flag of freedom and justice in the face of his listeners. The days of Dylan are dead, and long forgotten are the mellow folk methods of masters past. With a guitar in hand and song in heart, Billy shows that folk can be made a threat again and can be a vestibule to awakening the political fire in one's eyes.

Starting off with a bang, "Sorry, Mom" is a tale of a young person not quite ready to give up and settle. "I'm not coming home, until I make the world a better place or die trying," are lyrics that give the listener a gut check and a peak into the drive of this artist.

This song was put first on this album for a reason , and the reason is simple: give it your best shot. As Billy's best shot, "Let 'Em Fall" serves as a call to any who are looking for a different view on their current status in this life.

"The Fly You Ignore" is perhaps the most striking and thought-provoking song on the album. Dealing with an issue that every single town city and community in the U.S. is faced with, Billy puts homelessness right in the face of the upper classes. By comparing a simple seat on a bench to the harsh reality many Americans are faced with on the streets, Billy shows the divide that exists between the haves and have-nots in this country. Countless people pass those in need every day, yet are rarely inclined to do anything about the situation; instead, they go about life treating them like flies to be shooed away.

"I wonder if they realize their money, won't save them, from what's coming," sings Billy as the album continues on with "I Pray For Armageddon." This song is a wonderful story about trying to save the planet, but at what cost and for what population?

Staring at a ruined ocean and rapidly changing climate, Billy questions the efforts put forth and ponders the idea of simply waiting and embracing the inevitable collapse. Many share these nihilistic views on the world and are, in fact, simply praying for the end to help teach us a lesson.

As the album draws to a close, it's hard to imagine how the ending can match up to the previous nine songs. Then "Smash Your Television" enters with an easygoing intro that talks about the root of many of the issues discussed on the previous songs.

The song offers several different activities rather than watch TV and even offers reasons as to why one should rid themselves of television. Conveying a message of distrust in the TV media, Billy encourages his listener to go outside and enjoy life rather than to let life be controlled by the "cancer-filled light box."

Following the footsteps of the great Riot Folk Collective of the 2000s, Billy brings furry, knowledge and passion to his music. "Let 'Em Fall" is a great example of what knowledgeable 20-somethings could be doing with their music rather than sitting safely behind a blue and white screen for all hours of the day.

Billy delivers lessons of morality, history and freedom with his music and does so in a way that makes the listener pay attention. The idea of acoustic folk music being all behind lightly played guitars and well-crafted mandolin solos can take a seat and learn a thing or two from the energy presented in "Let 'Em Fall."

The songs on "Let 'Em Fall" are all charged with rapid guitar rhythms and hard-hitting vocals that bring the punk aesthetic into acoustic music. The album is a must have for those enamored by the songs of such storytellers as the Riot Folk Collective produced and influenced throughout the years by their activism and art. The album does not produce music for music sake, but rather checks the social consciousness and brings folk and punk back to the forefront of changing the world.

Check out "Let 'Em Fall" at joebilly.bandcamp.com/album/let-em-fall.

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