Erin McKeown – Manifestra

January 25th, 2013
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Erin-McKeown-Manifestra

Miss Independent

Over a decade ago, “indie” really meant something. Tower Records still towered.  Independent music makers – like original righteous babe Ani DiFranco – built their ferocious fan-nests out of spit and twigs. Erin McKeown began her “indie” career back in those strange, fading days, but calling her “indie” now seems diminutive and insulting. Erin McKeown “makes music because {she} is made of music.” With twelve albums and the rest of her eclectic creative outpourings, this woman deserves to be identified as the standard. Her new record was crowd-funded, naturally. She’s a producer of a pioneering online concert series, a political activist, and a mega-multi-instrumentalist. Basically, if you’re not willing to work as hard as Erin McKeown, go ahead and pack it in, because this is what it takes now.

Manifestra is Erin’s latest – you got it, independent – release. This darling collection of sharp observations is presented in such pretty wrappings, you might miss the biting little messages tucked inside. There’s bouncy, almost school yard ditty “The Jailer,” where McKeown sing-songs “but when we hang another man, part of us dies with him.” This track is quickly pursued by the “Manifestra,” itself – part song, part slam poem, and very reminiscent of early Ani D. Erin’s vocals, getting straight to the point. No frills. No fuss. A crisp conversation over a strong cup of coffee.

Thusly, the feel good duet “Instant Classic” featuring Ryan Montbleau is a standout moment. Upbeat, romantic and all around fun, McKeown’s frankness is beautifully complimented by Montbleau’s fanciful rasp. The record caps off with another fascinating collaboration – the super groovy and pointedly political “Baghdad to the Bayou,” was co-written by Rachel Maddow via text message.

If we’re still labeling music via broad Sorting-Hat terms, yeah, Erin’s still making indie folk. But fortunately, in this brave new world, we don’t need to go digging in the indie bin to find her. She’s right in front of us, full spectrum, and charmingly label-free.

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By Maggie Levin Posted in Reviews


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Erin McKeown – Manifestra

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