We're Not Going Anywhere (Thirty Tigers)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 27, 2017
David Ramirez's past albums wrung out a farsighted loneliness, running down the road with a squint toward the horizon while unsuccessfully shaking off what's been left behind. 2012's Apologies put him on the map locally, showcasing a powerful voice and perceptive pen. 2015's Fables notched another step forward, a heftier sound backing his nostalgic regret, but the songs still wandered in search of a steady compass. With fourth album We're Not Going Anywhere, Ramirez arrives. Production given over for the first time (to Sam Kassirer), the sound rises to meet the heft of Ramirez's writing, though surprisingly, through melancholic, Eighties-pitched synth and guitar. The author finds focus as well, his deeply personal laments attuned with political purpose. Opener "Twins" claws back to 9/11, exhuming a turning point to the sad lack of control and a world in a tailspin of anxiety and lost meaning. The lonesome, atmospheric Americana of Will Johnson or Greg Vanderpool still coats an album haunted by slightly scorched guitar. Throughout, Ramirez works a theme of disconnection in the melody-rich "Watching From a Distance," biting "People Call Who They Wanna Talk To," wanting tenor soar of "Telephone Lovers," and low-growling "Villain." The slow-drip rhythm of "Time" hypnotizes behind a Matt Berninger-like drawl, while "Stone Age" touches toward Mark Knopfler, and closer "I'm Not Going Anywhere" unfolds like Leonard Cohen. The stretches of unsurpassable distance only grow – culturally, socially, and personally – but David Ramirez finds a new cartography of meaning.