JPR Live Session: David Ramirez (2017)

Nov 24, 2017

We’re Not Going Anywhere: At a historical moment of immense political, social, and ecological uncertainty, those four simple words comprise both a promise and a protest, a comforting reassurance of inclusion as well as a hearty cry of defiance. It’s a statement that offers no small sense of hope, in that sense matching the music contained on the new album from David Ramirez.

On these vividly imagined and passionately performed songs Ramirez takes in the world from his unique perspective: “Being half white and half Mexican has made this current political climate especially interesting. So many cultures in this country are being viewed as un-American and it breaks my heart. My family have raised children here, created successful businesses here, and are proud to be a part of this country. Most of what I've seen as of late is misplaced fear. I wanted to write about that fear and how, instead of benefiting us, it sends us spiraling out control.

The album that bears that title marks a departure for Ramirez, who builds on the rootsy sound of his early albums to create something new, something bold, something anchored in the here and now. Scouting out unexplored music territory, these songs bounce around energetically, toying with new ideas and experimenting with new sounds, as barbed-wire guitars and retro-futuristic synths grind against his anguished vocals and evocative lyrics.

We flipped script a little bit and went in with a pretty specific vision: lots of keyboards and some out-of-the-box guitar sounds. I took a lot of notes from the indie bands I’ve been listening to and from the bands I loved growing up in the ‘80s, like the Cars and Journey. Let’s just live in this spacy world for a while and see what comes out of it.

What came out of it isn’t just Ramirez’s most adventurous album to date, but a record that captures the mood of the country in its music as well as in its lyrics. While he does tackle some new subjects, Ramirez grounds these songs in his own perspective, which means every song remains both human and humane, outraged and generous.