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Album Review: Eric George, 'Two Hands, Songs of Resistance'

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Eric George, Two Hands, Songs of Resistance
  • Eric George, Two Hands, Songs of Resistance

(Self-released, CD, digital download)

August 23 is the birth date of the late songwriter and activist Malvina Reynolds, born in 1900. Reynolds penned popular protest songs "Little Boxes" and "What Have They Done to the Rain," among others, that tackled topics such as suburban conformity and nuclear fallout. August 23 is also the birth date of Burlington bard Eric George and the release date of his latest album, Two Hands, Songs of Resistance. Like Reynolds, George documents the social and political issues of his day through song.

For a songwriter who's been channeling activist-musicians such as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie throughout his musical career, this current time of social and political unrest is George's for the taking. He dives right into the task in "Two Hands," the first of the album's seven topical songs written, recorded and produced by George. Here he pleads for fellow humans to be accountable for how they treat the planet and the people on it: "Through moments of hopelessness as the road bends / You've got one hand to hold on, the other one to lend."

Though the subject matter is heavy on this collection, the music varies from George's typical Americana fare to rock to smooth jazz to toe-tapping tunes that belie lyrical themes of death, danger and destruction.

Certain descriptors tend to crop up in press coverage about the leader of Radio Bean's Honky Tonk Tuesdays house band, Ponyhustle — namely folk, country and Delta blues. Turns out, George can do grunge, too. "Water When You Wake" opens with an acoustic guitar riff that calls to mind Nirvana's "About a Girl." George's casual drumming and eerie fiddle playing give this song an ominous feel.

The Sharon, Mass., native is prolific — this is his fifth release since 2015, not counting a 2018 poetry collection. He's also multitalented, playing guitar, upright bass, harmonica, fiddle, mandolin and drums. Cellist Monique Citro, drummer Dan Fancher and vocalist Megan Rice help carry the load.

In "Trouble Out of My Field," George sings in his raspy croon, "And so my friends, the problem is plain / The politicians and the cops and the banks are the same / It's like one big company store / If we want our bread, we've got to kick in the door." With this album, George makes it clear that he's not going to accept gentrification, racism, police brutality or other injustices without a fight, and he's inviting others to lend a hand.

Two Hands, Songs of Resistance will be available at ericgeorge.bandcamp.com on Thursday, August 23. Eric George plays on Wednesday, August 22, at the Daily Planet in Burlington and on Thursday, August 23, at North End Studios in Burlington.