‘Stone Age’ is the fourth single from David Ramirez’s new album We’re Not Going Anywhere.
It is an apt album title, especially for the Texan born Ramirez, who is an American with Mexican heritage. For Ramirez and millions of others from varied cultural backgrounds, the once welcoming sight of ‘Lady Liberty’ no longer holds true. It seems in Trump’s America those who were once welcomed with open arms are now being told to leave.
‘Stone Age’ is a biting commentary on what has become immigration policy in the US, and the divisive attitudes of the current government. Inspiration for the song came whilst Ramirez was visiting his girlfriend in London around the 4th of July last year. A week of normality in the UK whilst it seemed his own country was falling apart, as he explains. “I found myself in a state of mourning for the country, so I started writing that song over there, thinking, ‘maybe I should stay here.” As he sings in an early verse, “Well honey do you mind if I move in with you/While my fellow patriots work out Civil War 2.”
The chorus asks the question; “Where’s the light, where’s the light that was promised me?” The singer expanding on that thought in a later verse, beginning in a soft, almost spoken voice; “Give me your tired, your poor, your masses, yearning to be free/The homeless tempest tossed, send them all to me/All the wretched refuse off your teeming shore,” before he angrily spits out, “And I’ll blow out their flame and show ‘em the God Damn Door.”
With a driving rock groove, wailing melodic guitar, and a prominent Hammond organ, ‘Stone Age’ is bathed in 70s rock influence, sounding like a vocally succinct Harvest era Neil Young. Scattered throughout, and bookending the song, are wonderful dreamy layered vocal harmonies, which not only give emphasis to the transitions in the song, but also provide beauty in contrast to the weighty lyrical content.
Ramirez began his musical journey in the early 2000s, after discovering Ryan Adams and becoming hooked on songwriting, following that singers influences back to the folk singers of the 60s and 70s. It is the influence of Adams that has been ever present in his music since, thanks largely to similarities in vocal delivery. The new record, however, that similarity is far less pronounced. This is thanks to the influence of producer Sam Kassirer, who was brought in to evolve and change the recording process, providing a different focus from the Ramirez’s self-produced previous releases.
Recorded in Kassirer’s farmhouse in rural Maine, the first tastes of the new album have been diverse. ‘Time’ and ‘Twins’ are both quieter, more reflective, than the louder rock of ‘Stone Age,’ yet all songs share the melody and poetry that makes David Ramirez’s songwriting special and wonderful. The repeat listener is rewarded as the beauty in the songs reveals itself over time, both musically and lyrically.
Whilst ‘Stone Age’ is a serious song, about a serious subject, it does have some lighter moments, and features a line that paints such a unique, and perhaps ridiculous, picture that it is worth repeating. During the first verse, after bemoaning the reducing of the US back the stone age, Ramirez sings “Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty moved to San Fran to run a start up.”
We’re Not Going Anywhere is out now via Thirty Tigers in the UK, can be purchased on iTunes, and is streaming now on Spotify. David Ramirez is touring the US for the rest of the year, check out his exhaustive tour dates here.
Words Nicholas Cheek.