JASON ANDERSON – ” The Hopeful and the Unafraid “

Posted: December 17, 2022 in MUSIC

The Hopeful and the Unafraid is Jason Anderson’s third solo album since the dissolution of his indie pop act Wolf Colonel. The previous New England and The Wreath found Anderson reverting to the Elliott Smith-style singer/songwriter vibe of his earliest days, but The Hopeful and the Unafraid is something entirely different. Kicking off with the nearly eight-minute epic “El Paso,” this album is aimed unapologetically at the new Bruce Springsteen vibe that sounds like what the Arcade Fire, Mariah, and the Hold Steady have been flirting with, but in a far more overt way.

They’re mostly forgotten now, but in the wake of Springsteen’s breakthrough success with 1975’s Born to Run, a whole school of blue-collar singer/songwriters emerged, mostly from the industrial northeast, who were aiming for a similar blend of Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison: play The Hopeful and the Unafraid back to back with any late-’70s album by the likes of Robert Ellis Orrall, Steve Forbert, John Cougar Mellencamp, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes or Elliott Murphy, and this defiantly retro collection of pop/rock tunes won’t sound a bit out of place.

From the honking saxophone that powers the bouncy title track, through the grandiose piano runs coloring “July 4, 2004,” “The Half of It,” and “Colonial Homes,” and from the powerhouse FM-radio swagger of “Watch Your Step” to the teenage desperation of the novelistic, detail-stuffed “The Post Office,”

Anderson has written an entire album’s worth of shameless, unabashed Bruce Springsteen homages/rip-offs. If nothing else, it’s a moderately fascinating exercise in Rutles-ization, and there’s no doubt that much of the album rocks quite hard in a refreshingly non-ironic way.

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