Kevin Krull is a Chicago-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist whose musical experiences span a number of different styles. Revolution Euphoria, his 2021 release, is a home-recorded set that was born, he tells us, from spending 2020 “voraciously consuming radical leftist media” and needing “an outlet for [his] rage at the way the world is organized.”
The resulting four-track EP is “strictly anticapitalist, working-class solidarity music” that lands squarely in the country/folk genre. There’s no confusion about his subject matter, starting right with the opener “Malatesta.” Krull clears his throat, steps to the podium and tells us: “justice in an unjust system is impossible / because power's only function is accruing more power.” The music is classic American folk, complete with harmonica, and, in a touch that brought back fond memories of Mr. Sweitlicki’s 5th grade music class, an autoharp. Krull adds his unique print to the genre here with layered, tightly voiced vocal harmonies. The short track concludes with a uniting group sing-along.
“Ode to Illinois” moves to a country, strummed-guitar feel, again featuring Krull’s tight vocal harmonies. Andrew Krull’s note-perfect pedal steel guitar elevates the proceedings, as Kevin Krull sets his sights on government-subsidized farm conglomerates: “who cares if the earth dies … as long as it dies for the company dime.” Fair enough, but the f-bomb lyrics cheapen the message a bit.
The third track “Us v. Them” shifts uptempo with Andrew Krull adding in some dextrous banjo. With the couplet “capitalists worked hard for all these / years to make you feel worthless,” don’t anticipate a “like” from Adam Smith. The lyrics also include some shout-ats to Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. This is an unfortunate choice, because this limits the song’s reach to current events. As there is no description of who these men are (or why we should perceive them as evil), there’s no way for future listeners to understand the context and connect with the emotion that Krull is trying to deliver.
“A Casual Reminder” closes the EP. The track includes some tape hiss, by design, but it distracts from the tight vocal harmonies. The lyrics take a swipe at streaming platforms, which presumably excludes Bandcamp: “they need workers and thinkers and artists alike / to run the machine that fills their pockets up nice / you get a tenth of a tenth of a tenth of a cent / for every dollar they make with your life up for rent.” Krull does a nice job changing the music’s feel at the end of each stanza--it adds a little underline to his message.
Krull exhorts us to “educate! agitate! organize!” and hints that he knows the direction forward: “wait til you see what we've planned / I see a path that we can take / to put [America] in the people's hands.” Revolution Euphoria doesn’t give us the next step though. Perhaps the follow-up will point us?
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