As the title of Carsie Blanton‘s new album Love and Rage suggests, the singer-songwriter is a passionate radical. She’s both an ardent romantic when it comes to affairs of the heart and a fervent advocate for the poor and disenfranchised. She combines these disparate elements in the way she sees her place in the world. Blanton wants everyone, including herself, to be free to live and pursue happiness. Her desires are political or sexual. Her revolutionary aims are personal. It’s the instinctual critique that says she (meaning every individual) has as much a right to a perfect world as anybody else. Her job as an artist is to stimulate positive change.
That sounds like serious business, but Blanton also has a creative sense of humor that cracks open darker themes and shows the lighter side of being in the right. Do you ever feel like it’s the end of the world? Don’t worry, she tells us, there’s going to be a big party with rum, beautiful girls, and a chance to bang on drums, not to mention to bang the drummer! And how about that Jesus Christ fellow? Boy, he was good-looking. Like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus was a dangerous fellow because he believed in being good to others. Therefore, both men deserved a violent death. Blanton’s comedy might be dark, but her point is clear. “There ain’t nothin more criminal than kindness,” she sings. Her politicking for a better world is rooted in the simple concept that everyone deserves love.
That includes the physical kind as well. “You say I only want you for your body / Would that be so bad?” she asks. She croons about nights full of kissing, the pleasures of touching, and going to heaven with the same enthusiasm as she does lambasting privileged politicians, engaging in street demonstrations, and moaning about the plight of New Orleans. Blanton sings in a quirky voice that’s a little cartoonish, which makes her seem innocent and sincere, like the kid who asks why the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. Her calls for insurrectionist change come off as honest criticism of what’s wrong with the world.
Blanton calls out the racism and sexism of those who want to go back to a time where being white and male entitled one to a privileged life for the evil that it is. She strongly tells them to go to hell on “Shit List” over a pumping organ beat. Blanton asserts her convictions over the word of authority figures like parents and the church when it comes to love on “Ain’t No Sin”. On these songs and others, Blanton celebrates her common sense. She doesn’t suffer fools, even if she admits two people in a relationship are just “Sufferin’ Fools”. Knowing the score doesn’t make it any easier to find pleasure and satisfaction. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true.
A little knowledge can be a painful thing. Blanton uses comedy to cope as well as provide insights. Her progressive activism serves as a tonic for those who look to find comfort (re: “love”) yet still want to take action (re: “rage”) against the objectionable aspects of modern life.