When whomever said, "Writing about music is like dancing about
architecture," s/he must have had an album like T-Bone Burnett's
The True False Identity in mind. Equal parts acid rock, blues,
rockabilly, avant-garde, and some other genre that has yet to be defined,
The True False Identity finds Burnett contemplating the political
and the personal through "art of the state" and "poems
of the evening." The former encompasses the first half of the
album, allowing Burnett's social criticism and heavier musical influences
to come to the fore, while the latter features a mellower, more mournful
tone. But, even this distinction is unsatisfactory when discussing
The True False Identity. In reality, Burnett's first album
in fourteen years is rife with social commentary and religious allusions,
with infectious hooks and experimentation.
The album's opener "Zombieland" is an anti-establishment,
anti-government diatribe featuring ferocious bass and percussive accompaniment.
"Palestine, Texas" is equally intense both musically and
lyrically, this time incorporating gritty guitar riffs into the heavy
rhythm section along with apocalyptic, almost spoken word lyrics that
roll and rhyme from Burnett's mouth in a meter worthy of hip-hop.
"Seven Times Hotter Than Fire," by contrast, finds Burnett
and guitarist Marc Ribot cranking up their guitar amps to produce
a pure acid rock love song.
"There Would Be Hell To Pay" provides a marked contrast
to the initial tracks. A rolling, blues-infused ballad, "There
Would Be Hell To Pay" finds Burnett spinning morality tales
of murder and mayhem. "Every Time I Feel The Shift" begins
with Burnett's cynical assertion that "If we were to pass an
eleventh commandment in twenty years people would be shocked to
learn that there had once been only ten and wouldn't care if there
had been." The following "I'm Going On A Long Journey
Never to Return" is a rousing neo-rockabilly anti-love song,
which facilitates an easy segue into the "poems of the evening"
section of the CD.
"Poem Of The Evening: Hollywood Mecca of the Movies" marks
the beginning of the dirges dedicated to everything from love to the
Iraq War. "Poem Of The Evening: Hollywood Mecca of the Movies"
is an acoustic guitar-driven ballad that provides commentary not only
on Hollywood (as the title suggests) but on popular culture in the
United States, as well, while "Fear Country" features a
mellow reverb guitar riff and lyrics about the Bush administration's
use of money, lies, and intimidation to maintain power. "Baby,
Don't Say You Love Me" picks up the pace a bit, with a crunching,
yet melodious, guitar riff; driving, playful rhythm; and lyrics about
"Earlier Baghdad" finds Burnett moving back into haunting
lamentations - this time with lyrics about betrayal and the downfall
of organized religion. "Blinded By The Darkness," meanwhile,
is another journey into heavy acid rock with lyrics about the merging
of church and state. The final track, "Shaken, Rattled, and
Rolled," finds Burnett questioning his faith, in God, mankind,
Through all of the musical genres and lyrical themes Burnett samples
on The True False Identity, the album inexplicably works as
a whole, melding religious, social, political, and personal diatribes,
as well as seemingly disparate musical influences, into twelve non-linear,
yet irresistible, tracks. The True False Identity is easily
one of the most enticingly complex CDs of 2006.
-Tracy M. Rogers
2. Palestine Texas
3. Seven Times Hotter Than Fire
4. There Would Be Hell To Pay
5. Every Time I Feel The Shift
6. I'm Going On A Long Journey Never To Return
7. Hollywood Mecca Of The Movies
8. Fear Country
9. Baby Don't You Say You Love Me
10. Earlier Baghdad (The Bounce)
11. Blinded By The Darkness
12. Shaken Rattled And Rolled
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