Megan Jean and the KFB - "Tarantistas"
This is the third and most ambitious release from genre-defying, independent folk powerhouse, Megan Jean & the KFB. Full disclosure, I have eagerly awaited this album for over three years, ever since the band released this video for a new song, Hegemon. It instantly became my favorite song of theirs, so I had some heavy expectations coming into this new album - expectations that were demolished by how unbelievably good this music is.
The previous two releases from Megan Jean & the KFB blended folk, punk, swing, and a myriad of other styles into a unique brand of irreverent midnight americana that resided in a perpetual Halloween party filled with all sorts dancing skeletons and ghouls. Tarantistas brazenly departs from that style, and explores new musical horizons, without betraying the compelling songwriting or immense vocal prowess Megan Jean is famed for.
The first three tracks of Tarantistas are bright, funk-fueled toe-tappers that resonate with burgeoning energy. Megan Jean's voice soars across a vibrantly painted canvass of disco beats, dance hall horn sections, and well-placed backup vocals. I dare you to not walk around singing "Daughter don't you be like me/ Daughter look a lot like me," all day long after hearing Playground Queen.
The pace changes with the next few tracks, revealing a more subtle facet of the band. Hegemon is deftly produced here with piano embellishments, and one of the best sets of lyrics I have heard in a long time. I'd love to post all of it here, but I'll settle for the bridge:
I have fallen deep in love/
with the once and future America/
now, I believe in self-evident truth/
and I believe in the good in you
It is a powerful thing, to believe in the good in others, something that has easily been forgotten in our modern, divided times. If we could only believe and encourage the good in each other, what a different place the world could become. Hegemon is an artful reminder that true patriotism is not simply loving one's nation, but its people.
Another poignant moment comes in the album's closer War Cry. The somber, beautifully harmonized ballad paints a chilling picture of the emptiness and horror of war.
Them bullets gonna fly/
Them bombs are gonna blind your eyes/
And dont say "If I die..."/
Them thoughts will turn to prophecies in time. War cry.
In Tarantistas, Megan Jean & the KFB have been able to create a larger musical framework that delivers their most dynamic performance yet, balancing absorbing compositions with soulful, sturdy songwriting, both entertaining and thought-provoking. And I believe in the good in you.