Songs for Troubled Times
Politically motivate Rock with a folk music touch
PLEASE NOTE: All Profits from my album sales are given to charity.
If you are a right wing republican type YOU should hear this.
If you are a left wing liberal type you'll probably like it
With the release of "Songs For Troubled Times" John McGrail has taken a step in a new direction. The basis for these songs are social and political. He knows there is often a backlash to that type of approach as witnessed by Linda Ronstadt (that radical bitch) and the Dixie Chicks (those radical bitches) We won't even mention Ani DiFranco (God bless her) but as he has said "At this time in our nation's history I can't imagine just putting something out as entertainment". So there it is. Musically the album is top notch. "If it isn't going to be something that is appealing to the ears then write an essay. It's cheaper and less time consuming"
The songs go from the rocking Losing Our Voice and Almost Funny to the somber mood of Who The Hell Am I", to ominous Leaders to the light hearted "Just Like Tim McVeigh" and much more. When asked if it wasn't a bit of a risk doing this album John's response was "No a risk is being a soldier in Iraq. Having your butt in harms way because your president wanted to go to war for no good reason... putting out an album a risk?... ha! If only life was filled with such tepid risks."
So who is John McGrail??? John McGrail is a singer songwriter from Cleveland. He has been playing and performing music for 25 plus years. He has opened and for such diverse groups as the Cowboy Junkies, The Proclaimers, Texas and new age artist Larkin, plus he has performed with the Irish superstars The Chieftains and Native American singer songwriter Bill Miller. Plus he has played in Ireland, Europe and Africa. Here is a sampling of what has been said about him.Of all the anti-Bush records in recent months, John McGrail's Songs for Troubled Times is likely to be the most musically ambitious and lyrically heavy-handed. McGrail pulls no punches and has much to say, but he isn't going to let you get away without doing some thinking of your own; this is protest music that goes beyond sloganeering. Ostensibly a folk singer, McGrail is all over the place stylistically; folk takes a backseat to hard rock, alternative rock, and country rock. "Earthday," his screed against environmental abuse, is an excellent U2 impersonation, and "Sometimes We Forget" will have listeners over 50 remembering the Byrds' classic 1967 "Notorious Byrd Brothers." Two bouncy tunes, "Genocide Johnny" and "Just Like Tim McVeigh," are McGrail's most obvious, as is the metal-flavored "Almost Funny." This won't appeal to everyone, but it shouldn't be ignored. Steve Byrne-The Cleveland Scene Local singer-songwriter John McGrail tackles a lot of socio-political issues on his not-quite-new disc called Songs for Troubled Times. Not only is it his first solo release in almost a decade, he quickly sets out to tell you that not much has changed during that time. Except, perhaps, that he is an even better guitar player and lyricist than the last time you heard ‘em. Fairly or unfairly, McGrail gets roped into the “folkie” category. Truth is, he has quite the historical handle on a lot of different musical genres—progressive rock, modern jazz, classical, folk, classic rock and world music. And to complicate things even more, he’s one hell of a guitar player who knows how to coax tones out in just the right way. He gets a lot of rich, crystallized guitar tone on the set opener “Earthday,” which picks at Dubya’s dad even as McGrail himself picks at tone quality the likes of Eric Johnson would be proud of. He switches gears with the following modern rock track, “Sometimes We Just Forget,” which would make a fine bedfellow for the recent Push Stars disc. It’s when McGrail really turns up the heat on the political issues that he tends to earn those folkie armbands he’s probably grown used to wearing. Not that it’s a bad thing. Tunes like “Losing Our Voice,” “Almost Funny,” “Just Like Tim McVeigh” and “What Would Jesus Say?” are weighted with folk rock leanings and rather obvious intent. And then there’s “Genocide Johnny,” a song that McGrail wrote about a fictional (or not?) co-worker “jerk” who myopically wants to destroy all Muslims. “He said, ‘I’m proud to be an American because we’re always right/War is good so long as we get to pick the fight,’” McGrail growls, linking this particular Johnny to Saddam Hussein.
Maybe somewhere in Cleveland, McGrail has voice mails saved from Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly—one asking him for the rights and one telling him he’s wrong.
Peter Chakerian - Cool Cleveland e-zine
"He's got blockbuster one's (songs), as he showed... not only has a strong, resonant voice, but also knows how to play the guitar." Jane Scott / Cleveland Plain Dealer
"there's an imaginative mind at work here" Anastasia Pantsios/ Notations
"Very impressive. Original and thought provoking." "A world class player" "I would recommend (him) to everyone who likes adventurous music and any one who likes 'folk' music." CD Baby Reviews