From Socialist Voice, December 2010

Popular culture

The Mighty Stef and the Baptists


The Mighty Stef and the Baptists is album number 3 from the Mighty Stef, the Dublin troubadour, and for the occasion he’s enlisted the help of a “Gothic-folk-rock congregation,” the Baptists, a veritable supergroup of folk from Humanzi, the Last Tycoons, and Howlin’ Dowlin’.
     If death was a lingering theme throughout his last album, this one’s a howling roller-coaster ride of revenge, sin, and redemption. He continues delving into the darker side of life with the murky “John the Baptist (Part 2)” and “Blood and Whiskey,” and, as with all great troubadours, his songs reflect the world that surrounds him.
     A tectonic shift of societal conditions sees his style and songwriting follow suit, and how! “We Want Blood” is a polemic shot across the bows for working people against the continued exploitation by banks and the governmental and religious elite. Similarly, “Hollywood” could be viewed as a fervent attack on the cosmetic and fake side of modern materialistic society.
     Aside from the superlative slick songwriting, we’re treated to lashings of blues and folk with punk rock attitude, from the dark and thunderous “Social Science” to the inspiring and uplifting “Georgia Girl” or “John the Baptist (Part 1),” which could quite easily be Primal Scream or the Rolling Stones in their pomp.
     While the nods in the direction of Nick Cave and Johnny Cash remain, he seems more comfortable and at ease. He’s found his voice and his sound, freed from the shackles of his somewhat overbearing influences. The Baptist record is the Mighty Stef’s most ambitious project yet, the one fans knew he was capable of, and he’s passed with flying colours. His best work yet.
[BH]

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