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'Traitors Table'   

-  Label: 'Fluff and Gravy Records'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '21st June 2019'

Our Rating:
Co-written and recorded in the space of a week with his long-time musical partner Luther Russell, this powerful album is fired by an urgency to respond to a nation plagued by division, hate and uncertainty.

Although born in Argentina, Fernando Viciconte’s early adulthood was initially spent in Los Angeles. He subsequently moved to Portland in 1994 where he released 5 albums between 1994 and 2001.

Despite having lived and worked so long in the U.S., the current political climate means that he now lives in fear of being sent back to a country he never really knew.

The scene is set with the full-blooded opening track that identifies the Division Lines with the absence of common ground between left and right and the countless causes for conflict.

The record’s nightmarish cover is indicative of his mood and the spirit of John Lennon looms large in many of the songs. In particular, you can easily detect the troubled Beatle of ‘Help!’ and the post-therapy primal rage expressed in his 1969 debut solo album – Plastic Ono Band. Thirsty Man has a similar melody line to ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and Lennon’s plea to ‘Just give me some truth’ is a sentiment Fernando takes on board and runs with.

As the nature of truth is a fiercely debated commodity of late it is perhaps not surprising that ‘Traitors Table’ contains more questions than answers.

We hear this in the ”Who am I?” identity crisis of I Don't Know as he sees the ominous warning signs with “the same old hate getting bolder”. No Deal ends by asking ”What is real?” while a more pointed question is posed in Hey Darlene: “Have you seen the places where the rich people go?

Although The Company is a deceptively bouncy piece, Fernando fires off a series of loaded questions pertaining to how connected the society of the so-called ‘millennial’ generation really is.

Another track (Is This Normal?) finds him ”caught between a nightmare and a bad dream” while ”Is this your neighborhood?” is the pressing question in the closing track Turned Away which plays out with frenzied guitar and feedback as if to give release to all the pent up anger.

Fernando is in remarkably good voice throughout considering that he was recently diagnosed with a hiatal hernia that threatened to do permanent damage to his larynx and vocal cords. Only on These Are The Days does he sound fragile and slightly hoarse. Surgery initially gave a high chance of recovery from this condition but in 2018 the problems returned and live performances are currently on indefinite hold.

The fear is that this, his ninth album, may therefore be his last. Let’s pray this is not the case as the need for articulate and defiant voices like his has never been greater.

Hear ‘Traitor’s Gate’ on Bandcamp
  author: Martin Raybould

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