Seattle-via-Kenosha, Wisconsin anachronistic troubadour Sam Russell just released a new single and it’s fantastic. The anthemic “Born to Hurt” feels like a defining statement for Russell, an artist with a body of work spans a live EP with his ace band, the Harborrats as well as his Blue Moon Bible project, an ongoing series of 8 albums with 8 songs apiece inspired by The Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses (Russell is, thus far, 6 records in). All strains of folk, Americana, doo wop, rock ‘n’ roll, and post-Dylan folk-rock that Russell has employed over the last decade meet on board an ’80s synth-laden space ship and soar above the trees, past the old factory and over the train tracks to glory a la the movie The Explorers. Western civilization needs not one more iota of half-baked post-US presidential election commentary, but Russell’s literal (he left Kenosha over a decade ago) and figurative escapism is a sharp contrast from the fascist incantations many of his fellow Rust Belters cast in the voting booth on November 8th.
“Born to Hurt” is backed with an surprisingly earnest, moving cover of an old Eric Carmen song. Russell’s version of “Make Me Lose Control” is slow-burning and hypnotic, with mumbled vocals and Harborrat Ken Nottingham on bouzouki, a Greek string instrument that adds to the song’s dream-like quality.
Aficionados of the inexplicable cassette revival can pick up “Born to Hurt / Make Me Lose Control” on the even-more inexplicable “cassingle” format at shows but everyone can (and should) get it on Bandcamp right now.