Rosendale, New York’s Samuel Claiborne is yet another artist from the growing True Groove Records, and many of the names associated with the label make a return, such as Tomás Doncker and Heather Powell. The socially conscious Love, Lust and Genocide brings together the sounds of rock, grunge, alternative rock, acoustic, and even electronic elements. It can be a little difficult to listen to at times but for all the right reasons: It deals with politics, sexuality, and spirituality in the context of the world’s current painful throes. Perhaps it is his recovery from being a quadriplegic that enables Claiborne to remain optimistic despite it all.
The gritty mid-tempo grunge rock “Say Goodbye to America” kicks the album off with: “My house was foreclosed/God, don’t know where to stay/I came to occupy/All I got is pepper spray.” Needless to say, it’s quite the attention-grabbing opening! Guitar and drum-led, the track also features a solid bass line, horns, and backing vocals that add to the feeling of reflective anger of a songwriter claiming how it “Feels likes my country/Has eaten its own heart” before ending with an auditory cliffhanger of sorts. “Hungering for Strange” brings is up a notch in almost every way: tempo, intensity, grittiness, and drive. The horns yet again add a touch unusual for this genre but that works really well.
“The Lion and the Lamb” discusses the challenges of intolerance as the protagonist wonders why he is denied family and home because of a different life choice. This could have been an angry track or one beset by despair. And yet, while the two do make a clear appearance, the overall feeling is one of almost loving will to bridge the gap, a feeling enhanced by the almost sweet melody played on a violin. The lesson is subtly shared in the transition, in the chorus, from “your God” to “my God”: We all believe in the same God, and no one can deny us our connection with Him.
“Succulence (Blasphemy)” comes off as a poetry reading set on the background of wooden flutes, gentle guitars, and what sounds like a hand drum. The well-performed cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” fits perfectly with the rest of the album. The guitar-led “Broken” touches on Claiborne’s experience as a quadriplegic, starting off with the haunting: “From the neck down/I’m on fire/Everything lies broken/beneath me/God I am broken/Release me.” Anyone who has gone through a difficult medical condition will no doubt connect powerfully with this tune.
A new element is introduced by the more industrial “21st Century War”: a driving electronic beat. This track is more of a spoken word type in which Claiborne reflects on the state of war as it is currently led, mentioning some of the horrific acts of war of recent years, how the media manipulates rather than informs its audience, and the reaction of the average American citizen. Grunge rock is back at the forefront from the very first note played of “Unbound”, played by on an electric guitar that leads the entire piece. Love, Lust and Genocide ends with “The Heart Is a Bomb”, another spoken word song featuring thumping drums and a distorted electric guitar.
Samuel Claiborne’s release comes off more as a meditation on America’s current condition rather than background noise. He stays clear away from being patronising or preachy, offering his thoughts simply and honestly, making them well worth listening to. More information about Samuel Claiborne is available on his official page and Facebook page.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.
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