CD Review of Let It Roll by Willard Grant Conspiracy

Music Home / Entertainment Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Buy your copy from Willard Grant Conspiracy:
Let It Roll
starstarstarstarno star Label: Dahlia Music
Released: 2007
Buy from

Maybe its time we reconsidered what “Goth” is. For years, depressed suburbanites who have dipped their faces in white foundation and black makeup and are decked out in high-priced black leather outfits have defined the Goth scene. But what’s so Goth about designer clothes and trendy clubs? If you want to experience something that’s truly gothic, dark and depressing, you should ditch the eyeliner, sell your leather corsets and go on a road trip to the Great Plains. Some may say that sounds way too depressing and bleak, but that’s the point. Welcome to the real Goth, you little emo brat! Now pick up a pitchfork and get to work, this hay isn’t going to bail itself.

Gothic Americana is a sub-genre of and roots/folk rock that has been around for a while. Look at some of Tom Waits and John Doe’s stuff for good examples of the somber style that drapes itself in the bleak and barren imagery of the American Heartland. The Willard Grant Conspiracy is one of the more prolific artists of the style, having released over 10 albums in less than 10 years. Their latest release, Let It Roll, continues their exploration of some of the darker sounds and feelings of classic American music, with singer/songwriter Robert Fisher delivering some great somber and beautiful tunes.

Things kick off with a depressing bang on Let It Roll, with “From a Distant Shore,” a song about war that no soldier with a will to live would ever listen to. Told from the perspective of a soldier far away from home preparing himself for (almost anticipating) his impending death, he tells a mysterious loved one back home that even after he’s gone his breath will remain as a breeze from a distant shore. Not an anti-war song by any means (it congers up images of Normandy more than Iraq) it still tells the story of a man far from home who would rather die than spend one more day there.

The pace quickly picks up with the title track, but do not expect a reprieve from constant feelings of depression and hopelessness. A nine-minute trip into depression and anger, complete with religious imagery, odes to hard liquor and one bad-ass viola solo, “Let It Roll” is like “Freebird” on downers.

Even when Willard Grant Conspiracy sounds upbeat, the band's message is deceptively depressing. “Crush,” with its cheery horns and upbeat chorus “The sun is shining / Yeah alright / It’s a brand new day,” may sound like a happy-go-lucky pop tune, but the final line of “I’m jumping off tomorrow / I’ve made up my mind” kind of creates a mixed picture.

When you’re a depressed miserable wreck, fallen into a pit of hopeless bleak despair and too exhausted of the wretched human race to even try to save yourself, there are three kinds of albums you generally reach for. The first is the obvious, upbeat pop record to try and get out of your funk. The second is the angry F.U. album that helps you displace your unending sorrow with undying anger; it may not be very healthy, but at least it gets you out of the house. The third is the über-depressing record that you cathartically listen to over and over again in order to drive yourself into an even deeper level of depression and loathing. Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was one of those records; Pink Floyd’s The Wall was one too. Now Willard Grant Conspiracy’s Let It Roll can proudly be placed next to those two classics. It’s not as good as either of those albums, although it does have its moments, but it is just as dismal and bleak as both of them. Don’t buy it if you have handguns or razor blades in your home.

~James B. Eldred