Thursday, February 25, 2021

Steven Keene: “Them & Us” (2020) CD Single Review

Last year singer and songwriter Steven Keene demonstrated a great talent for tapping into the longings, fears and needs that many people have been experiencing, his music connecting with people in a meaningful way. He did it on the album It Is What It Is, which was released in January of 2020, and then on the single “Save Yourself” a few months later.  And he continued that with his most recent single, “Them & Us,” a song that deals with racism and yet has a beautiful and hopeful sound. It is the title track from his new album.

Early on, this track contains a reference to “Abraham, Martin And John,” the song released by Dion in 1968 about Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. And there is the strong sense that those recently killed as a result of racism are also present in this song. The last four years have shown us that racism and division are as much a problem in this country as ever before. “Ol’ Jim Crow, the hood and white robe/Forever blame, forever shame/Now a knee to the head, and a poor soul’s dead/Some things never change.” The fact that a racist ended up in the White House emboldened many citizens to celebrate their worst qualities. We are beginning to emerge from that darkness now with the new administration, but there is clearly a lot of work to be done to solve the problem, heal the wounds and bridge the divide. In this song, Steven Keene asks, “How wide’s the divide between them and us?” But again, this song has a hopeful, even optimistic sound. It reaches out, from one heart to another, sharing the feeling that we can and must rise to the occasion. Joining Steven Keene on this track are Joseph Chiarolanza on bass, Jeff Levine on organ, Joseph Napolitano on pedal steel, Matt O’Ree on guitar, Rich Scannella on drums, and Arne Wendt on organ and piano. Lisa Testa and Jessie Wagner provide some excellent backing vocals. Check out their work, particularly at the end, the way their voices rise up as in the best gospel music. By the way, proceeds from sale of this single are being donated to organizations that combat discrimination.

CD Track List

  1. Them & Us

Them & Us was released on August 28, 2020.

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