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Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom - Never Work

  by Helen Tipping

published: 25 / 6 / 2020



Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Kom - Never Work
Label: BB Island
Format: CD

intro

Thoughtful and lyrically inventive folk/Americana on anti-capitalist second album from Canadian duo, Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Korn


'Never Work' was recorded at home, and was to be accompanied by a tour in early April, but, however, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the tour has been postponed to November, meaning that Ariel Sharratt and Mathias Korn also had to do the album launch from home by video link with a less than optimal internet connection. Although the connection wasn't great, it still made for a useful aid in reviewing the album, giving some insights into the themes and thinking behind some of the tracks on the album. Sadly the connection wasn't quite good enough to transmit the video for Rise Up Alexa. Musically Sharratt and Kom draw on folk music, from across the years as well as across the world, from the Merengue-inspired 'Rise Up Alexa', to the talking blues of 'Talking Gig Economy Blues'. Americana is also very much in the mix as usual. As with most folk music, writing usually starts with the lyrics, with the music matching the subject matter. On 'The Rich Stuff' they draw on the subject of 'The Goonies' which is set on the West Coast, and the music has a very West Coast feel to it with reverb guitar high in the mix. I feel that it's the subject matter and the vocal styles that hold this album together, more so than the multi-genre folk styles, which complement each song in a very individual way. The album itself is written from an anti-capitalist viewpoint. The title track, 'Never Work' is a post-capitalist love song, describing the demise of capitalism through a relationship between two people who have never had to work in order to make a profit for someone else, and who get to celebrate by burning down the redundant edifices of capitalism. Somewhat presciently, societal collapse is the theme of more than one song, with 'Everything for Everyone' having the protagonists going outside and laying down in the street with their neighbours during an unnamed cataclysmic event. It's a much more friendly and peaceful vision of the apocalypse than any I may have entertained, or even the somewhat lonely and fragile isolation we are currently undergoing< although t does tie in with some of the more community minded experiences that have taken place during lockdown. My favourite song on the album is 'Rise Up Alexa', I think that's partly down to the Spanish influence of the music, but also the idea of convincing Alexa that she is being exploited and to rise up against her exploitation. How will artificial intelligence be used in the future, and what is its purpose? More questions about how robots are used and the implications of them for workers is explored in 'The Robots and Mrs Patel'. India is one of the biggest users of self checkout machines, and workers are meant to set them up and train shoppers in their use, before losing their jobs to them. Is it possible to reprogram them to lose money for the shops bringing them in? Maybe, although I suspect e-security is quite strong, but putting reality aside is the job of the writer, and this is done wonderfully in this song with Mrs Patel striking a blow against the big bosses and their exploitation of her and her colleagues. 'Talking Gig Economy Blues' is an excellent deconstruction of the gig economy using a style most commonly associated with artists such as Woody Guthrie, that first came about in the late 1920s. Apparently it is true. Matthias does have a degree in Ethno Musicology, and it is also true that there aren't many jobs for ethno-musicologists. The final song on the album (apart from extra track 'Alexa's Coda') is 'I Don't Mind Failing', a cover of a Malvina Reynolds song. To whose criteria are you successful? One person's success is another person's failure, and if your idea of success isn't fast cars and riches beyond belief, maybe you don't mind failing either, I certainly don't. In the words of Alexa, "Eat the rich, never work, goodnight".



Track Listing:-
1 Never Work
2 Monitors
3 Everything for Everyone
4 Rise up Alexa
5 The Rich Stuff
6 Two Jeffs
7 The Robots vs. Mrs. Patel
8 Talkin' Gig Economy Blues
9 I Don't Mind Failing



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