Veteran rocker David Reece is scheduled to return this week with his latest album, Blacklist Utopia. The 13-song record is scheduled for release Friday through El Puerto Records and will come a little more than a year after the release of his then latest album, Cacophony of Souls. He released that album through El Puerto Records, too. This latest offering, which runs 57 minutes, is another strong presentation thanks to its featured musical and lyrical content. That is proven in part through the album’s single, ‘I Can’t Breathe.’ This song will be discussed shortly. ‘American Dream’ also does well to show what makes the album’s musical and lyrical content stand out. It will be examined a little later. ‘Book of Lies,’ which closes the album, is yet another example of how this record’s musical and lyrical content comes together to make it worth hearing. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Blacklist Utopia another record that David Reece’s fans are certain to appreciate.
David Reece’s latest album, Blacklist Utopia, is a work that is sure to appeal to Reece’s established audiences and to guitar rock purists alike. That is proven throughout the record with its musical arrangements and lyrical themes. The album’s single, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ is just one of the works featured in the record that supports the noted statements. The song’s musical arrangement is a pure, heavy, guitar-driven hard rock composition that fits just as well with today’s active rock opuses as with the hard rock songs that bridged the late 80s and early 90s. Its appeal is that wide. The fire in the song’s arrangement does well to help translate and deliver the frustration in the song’s clearly sociopolitical theme.
In the case of this song’s lyrical theme, it takes on the big news stories that have happened over the course of the past year or so in a fully unbiased fashion. Reece sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “I’m shakin’ my fist at the 1% of you/Radical/Your ideas/Always on the news/99% of us don’t care about your view/I refuse/Detonate the fuse/Dead or alive/’Cause I can’t breathe/I will survive/Your hypocrisy/Bring me to life/’Cause I can’t breathe/Throw me a line/Remove your knee/’Cause I can’t breathe.” Again, audiences should not misunderstand what Reece is saying here. This is clearly meant as a commentary on the division in America today; that rift that has formed among the people because of everything going on. The commentary continues in the song’s second verse, “I’m wearin’ my mask ‘cause statistics tell me so/Fanatical pariahs do it all for show/Mighty fine/You plant the trust/Stooping to a low/Nothing to lose/Resonate the muse/Feeling deprived/Now I can’t breathe/Take off the disguise/Don’t lie to me/Try to connive/So I can’t breathe/Hard to describe/What’s inside of me/’Cause I can’t breathe.” The mention of the mask is clearly a reference to the CDC’s recommendations about mask wearing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It would seem that the mention of the fanatical pariahs doing it “all for show” maybe is commentary about how some people are pushing an agenda rather than actually caring about what is happening. It definitely makes for its own share of discussion. Add in the sense that the song’s subject can’t breathe because of everything he/she is feeling inside adds to the overall sense that this is a song about someone who is seeing everything going on and just feels completely overwhelmed by it all. The fire in the song’s musical arrangement helps to translate the frustration that said subject must feel at seeing it all. It works together to show clearly in its own right why the album’s overall content makes it a successful new offering from David Reece. It is just one of the songs that serves that end, too. ‘American Dream,’ which comes a little later in the album’s nearly hour-long run, is another example of how the album’s collective content makes it worth hearing.
‘American Dream’ stands out in part through its musical arrangement, which is a stark contrast to so much of the album’s musical content. It is a simple, semi-acoustic work that is a ballad of sorts. The almost mournful approach (Reese’s vocals included), conjure thoughts of works from the likes of Bruce Springsteen. Yes, it is a little bit of a stretch, but it is a comparison that can still be made to a point. The sound and approach taken here does just as well in pairing with the song’s own socially conscious lyrical theme to impact audiences.
As noted, the lyrical theme featured in ‘American Dream’ is another socio-politically charged song. Its approach, even lyrically, throws back to the old folksy political songs of the 60s. This is evidenced as Reece sings about the fading sunlight over no man’s land, the lady on the island being “a puppet on a string” and “progress masquerading while they’re kicking cans” in the song’s lead verse. Reece adds to that sense in the song’s chorus that the American dream not “being what she seems.” The mention of “politicians stumbling over their own lies” in the song’s second verse adds even more to the clear statement being made here. Looking even deeper at all of this, it plays into the overall theme noted in the album’s title. It is another example of how Utopia really has been “blacklisted” so to speak. Again, when this is considered along with the song’s musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes even more impacting. It is just one more way in which the album’s collective content proves so important to the overall presentation. ‘Book of Lies,’ which closes out the album, is one more example of how the album’s content makes it appealing for his established and targeted audiences.
‘Book Of Lies’ presents another familiar style approach and sound in its musical arrangement. It is another, pure hard rock composition. What is interesting here is that the upbeat, 2/4 time signature, Reese’s vocal delivery, and the guitars work here to actually give the song the slightest touch of punk (yes, punk) influence along his more familiar guitar and power metal approach. That blending of sounds and styles here is handled expertly and makes the arrangement in whole unique of its counterparts in the album. It is just one more example of how the album’s musical arrangements make it appealing. The lyrical content that accompanies the song’s musical arrangement builds on that appeal and makes for even more interest.
This is just this critic’s interpretation, but in the case of this song, it seems that instead of more sociopolitical commentary, Reece instead opts for a more direct social commentary. In this case, that commentary seems to focus on how people live one way, but try to make people think they live another way. Now whether the very mention of the “book of lies” is a reference to Facebook or just a metaphor simply for how we as humans put on airs, the reference works in either instance. The mention of pulling the plug in the chorus would seem to aim the commentary more on the matter of social media, but again that is just this critic’s interpretation. Regardless, the overall message is relatively clear. It is a commentary about how people live double lives of sorts and how we need to just live our one true life no matter what. To that end, the emotion in the song’s musical arrangement pairs with this seeming commentary to give listeners one last dose of hope even though for the most part, the album has proven the world is anything but a Utopia. It is a fine final accent to the presentation that proves once more why the album deserves to be heard at least once.
David Reece’s latest album, Blacklist Utopia is a presentation that his established fans will find just as appealing as any true rock and hard rock purist. That is proven through the record’s musical and lyrical content alike. The songs examined here do well to support the noted statements. When they are considered along with the album’s remaining tracks, the whole makes the album overall, a positive new offering from Reece that is worth hearing at least once.
Blacklist Utopia is scheduled for release Friday through El Puerto Records. More information on the album is available now along with all of David Reece’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/David-Reece-Official-712460068855429/.