Setting a standard for alt-country insurgency, Earle established his renegade reputation with precedent-setting albums such as Guitar Town and Copperhead Road which, along with telling collaborations with roots-rock upstarts the Supersuckers and the V-Roys, and the occasional bluegrass flirtation, distanced him from the cowboy-hat crowd. Though he has been daringly defiant ever since, none of his pronouncements provoked as much outrage as his "John Walker's Blues" from 2002's Jerusalem, a paean to the American Taliban that had even his most devoted fans questioning his daring.
With that as a prelude, and given the current popularity of Bush-whacking tactics, Earle's latest audio assault, The Revolution Starts ... Now, is hardly surprising. Rush-released to the marketplace in time for the upcoming presidential election, it's his most overtly politicized effort yet, from the railings of the title track and its book-end reprise, to the unabashed vitriol spewed at the gatekeepers of the nation's airwaves via "F the CC." ("So fuck the FCC/Fuck the FBI/Fuck the CIA/Livin' in the motherfuckin' USA.") Similar in stance and as frighteningly compelling as "John Walker's Blues," "Rich Man's War" finds him transforming the first-person perspective of disillusioned soldiers into a rugged, world-weary hymn. "When will we ever learn/When will we ever see/We stand up and take our turn/And keep tellin' ourselves we're free," he cautions, drawing a parallel between U.S. enlistees and the Palestinian suicide bombers that's sure to fuel further ire. The spoken word "Warrior" echoes those sentiments: "Your sons, your daughters, your hopes, and your dreams/The cruel consequence of your conceit."
Surprisingly, the album has its lighter moments. "Condi Condi," a Calypso-flavored serenade on which he woos Condoleeza Rice ("People say you're cold, but I think you're hot"), provides some saucy satire. The wobbly "Thought You Should Know," and "Goin' Around," a tender back-porch serenade with America's real sweetheart Emmylou Harris, shows he hasn't lost his nerve, or his verve. When it comes to lobbing diatribes, Earle's aim is true.