Larson's 'A New Deal' is the real deal

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Tim Larson and the Owner/Operators (Courtesy of Tim Larson)

The stark, unblinking realism of Tim Larson and the Owner/Operators' new record "A New Deal" doesn't make for a fun listen. But as America continues to try and pull itself out of the economic crisis of recent years, it's certainly a worthwhile listen.

Released April 15, the record shows off Larson's past as both a classically trained musician and union asphalt worker. On songs like "Rent to Own" and "Merit Worker," Larson tackles problems like the mortgage crisis and unemployment. It's all packaged in a multilayered, foreboding sound that fits the lyrics perfectly.

The plainspoken protest songs sound exactly like what an out-of-work laborer might say, and it's not by accident.

"Putting together the songs for this record, I wanted to accurately represent what I was seeing at work every day," Larson said. "Every conversation became a potential verse or song idea, sometimes the lyrics are word for word from the people I was writing about."

The record ends with the title track, a nod to FDR's great program that helped pull America out of an even bigger crisis than we've seen recently. It's still stark, but as Larson sings, "I'm waiting for a new deal. I'm waiting for these scars to heal," it captures a sense of hope Americans have in spite of everything in front of them.

My spin: B

Recent years have seen a rebirth of the protest album for good reason, but few have been darker than "A New Deal." Tim Larson and the Owner/Operators have captured the spirit of America's hardest hit workers with a record that can and should make the listener uncomfortable.

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