In the fall of 2016, singer-songwriter Dan Miraldi was gearing up for an album release, with a lead single already out in the world, but the outcome of the US presidential election caused him to take a step back.
Nearly a year later, we have his new EP Love Under Fire, a rock record railing against complacency in the face of injustice. Its six tracks react to current events with righteous anger, melancholia, and ultimately the conviction that something must be done.
Miraldi has the blues-rock chops to write a catchy riff or an all-out fist-pumping anthem, as in the cases of “The Sweet Sound of Protest,” “Kids Are in the Street,” or the title track. He’s also able to slow down and take a more contemplative approach, as in the acoustic balladry of “Fear Is a Powerful Drug.”
That track features some of Miraldi’s most snappy sloganeering: “An idea did align: / It was not to stay inside / not to run and hide / though fear is a powerful drug / it’s got nothing on love / and we shall overcome,” he sings.
Amid this lament about crooks, conmen, and alternative facts, he also shouts out the rich history of protest music. For his part, the EP covers broad ground, from corporate corruption to institutional racism and the American failure to separate church and state.
Miraldi is short on specific prescriptions, but his conclusions are powerful: white America has a lot to answer for, love for the oppressed must take the form of direct action, and the progressive millennial voice must be taken seriously.
There’s more compelling political commentary to be found in popular music, for sure. Love Under Fire isn’t the equivalent of, say, Kendrick Lamar on top of a police car at the BET awards, or Laura Jane Grace burning her birth certificate on stage in North Carolina.
But in a country that finds a way to demonize even the most peaceful protest, there’s a place for Miraldi’s directive to pay attention and get involved.
Today alone, the March for Racial Justice and the March for Black Women are taking place on the National Mall in DC. If you have a minute, checking out those organizations and their goals would be a great place to start.