Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A review of "Jared Paul Live"

With a punk rock attitude, hip hop cadence, and the mentality of an activist, Jared Paul begins his first ever full length live spoken word album with "Class Warpath." Shouting "So it's 2012 and I'm still in the water, sharks swarm, but I'm never swimming for shore, let them come, let them come." A telling line about the territory covered on this album which could easily double as 'a Jared Paul's Greatest Hits" album. This is an album from a man, an artist and activist who has spent the past ten years criss-crossing the country on the independent grind, performing at poetry slams, festivals, protests, and bars. A man who along the way has built quite a reputation as a live performer. (I've seen him perform for crowds, from hundreds to a handful, no matter the amount of people in the audience he brings the same passion.)

Along the way, Jared Paul has gathered a few things. He has a mind full of statistics. Some might say statistics, shouldn't be in poetry! Still the stats are quite inciting, on  "ABC's for Radical's" we learn that, "There are over 900 billionaires in existence. Total their wealth and you got more money than the combined asset of every other working class person on earth." The poem puts a chilling case for why we need to change our ways or we will destroy our ability to live on this planet. This is a statistics spitting street poet, who is able, and willing, to say the poems that uncover those uncomfortable truths the decent society would rather sweep under the rug. This is not coffee table poetry.

Which isn't to say that this isn't a fun album. Jared Paul is not the spoken word Morrissey. The next poem is a 'Bike Riding Revenge Poem' that humorously and vividly recounts an incident with a taxi driver on a sunny afternoon. Actually this is more a story than a poem. And some of Jared Paul's best pieces are stories. I highly recommend "2008 RNC Arrest Story."

"Once I took a train..." And so it goes for this traveling artist slash activist. Numerous tracks are centered on his experiences on the road, there's road trips stressed by snowy roads, dirty hotels and bar performances, and from a train window there's a field of crosses that spurs a deep meditation. This deep meditation in "Salt Lake Crucifixion Blues" covers quite a lot of ground, it's an absorbing journey of a poem with a clever ending.

Other standouts pieces include,  "Lots Wife" with it's rhythmic and graphic poetry and "Pro Choice For Life" which begins with him existentially questioning "are things as bad as I seem to make them?", and ends with a portrait of a childhood violated in foster care. His answer is there.

And in the tradition of the Pete Seeger and all the great voices of the people, Jared Paul continues on. His live album, inspired by the great injustices of the day and travels on the road, is his greatest hits album, a telling end to a chapter in his story. I encourage you to listen to his album which can be found here:

Next up for Jared Paul, a book! Go here to learn more:

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