¡Let Freedom Ring!
The title's punctuation pays tribute to this album's exotic recording-locale of Mexico City—right when a major earthquake struck, no less. Though the geography is an intriguing side-story, it doesn't necessarily reveal itself the music; this isn't Chuck's mariachi record, in case you were worried. Musically, ¡Let Freedom Ring! is pretty much vintage Prophet songwriterly rock `n' roll, very much in keeping with his body of work, even as he gets a little bit older and wiser each time out. There's a lot of juxtaposition between rough `n' tumble and sweet `n' soulful, sometimes in the same song: On "Sonny Liston's Blues" and "Barely Exist" especially, the verses contrast vastly with the choruses, but in a manner that's exquisitely complementary. The latter tune in particular is deeply affecting, its hard-bitten half-spoken stanzas melting away into a minimalist wave of heartbreak: "When you barely exist, who's gonna miss you when you're gone?"There is, probably, a stronger touch of the political, particularly on the title track, a new American anthem for the post-9/11 world, toasting the triumphs of freedom even while the country is crumbling all around us—"As the rivers rise up over the banks, and there's nowhere a poor boy can hide." Such sentiment pairs pointedly with "Hot Talk" and its apocalyptic inquisition: "We're gonna see how Wall Street takes the news when Wall Street finds New York City's gone." Still, this record is ultimately more personal than political. "Love Won't Keep Us Apart" is as elusive as its title, swooning over a romance turned inside-out and upside-down, but ultimately unavoidable. And the final track, "Leave The Window Open", revels in the world's little mystical beauties as Prophet delivers one of his finest-ever vocal performances, full of passion and conviction, living only in the moment.