Adrian Sutherland delivers a powerful message via “Politician Man”
Adrian Sutherland’s “Politician Man” isn’t really a protest song in the purest sense of the term. His subject is too general and diffuse; rather than decrying a specific series of events or an individual incident, Sutherland’s song directs its ire against a nebulous class of elected people who share common characteristics and traits. It makes the song no less powerful however. “Politician Man” takes aim at an entire class of people with pointed economical language that resists sugarcoating its sentiments of despair and frustration. The politicians in this song do not just disappoint; they steal half your heart and come back for seconds, they injure souls. The traditional music backdrop for the song underlines its intensity of feeling and never sounds forced. The debut solo single from Adrian Sutherland marks an auspicious opening to his solo efforts and we can only hope he will manage to find time and inspiration for further such efforts in the future.
He has a natural voice for this sort of musical setting and takes on the track with palpable confidence. It is all the easier for us to embrace a musical message when the performer is invested in conveying its personal and external importance for listeners. Sutherland’s “Politician Man” expresses a timeless feeling, resentment and dissatisfaction with the powers that be, but you can hear this sentiment finding its footing in his own voice rather than well crafted mimicry he’s cribbed from better songwriters and performers. “Politician Man” is all his own and you never question his veracity.
First class musical collaborators accompany him as well. There are no extended solo spotlights, “Politician Man” isn’t that type of song, but the musicians playing alongside Sutherland have a strong sense of what the song needs and possess the skills to nail it in an inspired yet off the cuff style. Nothing sounds plotted out here or belabored. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this recording is a first take of the track. It has that sort of spontaneity and crackles with chemistry like the musicians cut it live standing across from one another in a room rather than recording the parts separate from one another and later mixing them.
“Politician Man” doesn’t attempt remaking the songwriting wheel with its lyrics. It speaks in a direct, conversational manner to listeners and tailoring the words to the arrangement while still sounding natural rather than cut to fit is one of its key strengths. There is no sense that Sutherland’s leaving something our or short changing listeners. The harmonica included in the song has the interesting effect of adding another musical “voice” to the performance to counterpoint Sutherland’s own.
Justin Stephenson’s video for the track makes for an excellent pairing. He has a sharp visual sense befitting a storyteller; there’s a clear design to how the video unfolds rather than seeming like a hodgepodge of imagery jammed together to make a promo clip for Sutherland’s song. “Politician Man” benefits from a five star approach on every side and has to rank as one of Adrian Sutherland’s career highlights thus far.