NYC-based artist Paul Maged beckons us into a hard-hitting, politically-charged journey with his latest record Culture War. It’s a protest album where Maged uses music as a creative outlet to voice his opinions. “Nobody writes protest songs anymore. Major artists used to write protest songs. Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan. You just don’t see that anymore because all popular artists today are so neatly packaged to appeal to the masses and no one wants to ruffle any feathers. I may not be a big artist but I have to speak my truth and I know I’m not alone in how I feel,” shared Maged.
The opener and title track of the record “Culture War” feels like the soundtrack of 2020’s divisive air. “Political rage and social divide / Diamonds of truth lost in the abyss of lies” chants Maged. It’s a firing track accompanied by animated visuals that capture everything from cancel culture to BLM. The follow up “Simplicity” takes a more indie rock turn whereas “Lose Your Privilege” is an explosive melody built on smashing riffs as Maged taps into white privilege and its effects on society.
Aside from politics, the record also taps into art and personal existentialism. “We Are” is a heartfelt pop piece that was inspired by the film A Star Is Born and channels Maged love for art. But Maged knows that any creative endeavor isn’t smooth – the foot-stomping anthem “The Saturday Scene” captures the ups and downs of his own experience with standup comedy. He further entangles us into the emotional tug-of-war that many artists go through when trying to pursue a creative field, but are bounded by the realistic hurdles of it in “When Dreams Don’t Come True.” It’s an upbeat, guitar-powered track that is drenched with heartbreak and hope.
The most intimate moment of the album is “Shine On Your Light”, which is inspired by his late father. Peppered with mild elements of punk, “Shine On Your Light” is the most vulnerable anthem where Maged faces his own fears, doubts, and longing through conversational lyrics with his father. In “Cult 45,” Maged brings the gritty edge of punk into the rock atmosphere as he tells the narrative of a corrupt individual with biting sarcasm. The follow up “Jeanie Is A Rockstar” is a head-spinning ballad that has slightly gothic touch to it. “Illusions” is built on stacks of fragmented beats that marches through your system with infectious boldness.
With this album, Maged addresses some of the heftiest issues that are present in our current politically-charged world. It is also an intimate, personal account of dealing with loss, pain, hope, and nostalgia.
Culture War will be available via all platforms on November 3rd.