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CD review | ROOTS ROCK

Ry Cooder, ‘Election Special’

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Anyone who thinks protest music is dead hasn’t been listening to Ry Cooder. The renowned, Grammy-winning, folk-rock-blues-world singer-songwriter, musician, and soundtrack composer follows up last year’s equally pointed “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down” with “Election Special,” which makes no bones about his left-leaning views. On paper some of Cooder’s topic-targets sound pretty dry: the billionaire Koch brothers (“Brother Is Gone”), Mitt Romney’s oft-told Seamus-on-the-car-roof story (“Mutt Romney Blues”), and economic devastation (“The 90 and the 9”). Cooder is mad as hell, but because he’s a virtuoso with a wry sense of humor that balances indignation and despair, the songs stand as songs, not just soapbox speechifying. Some listeners may disagree with his views, but even they may find hard to resist the juke joint slide guitar snaking along the chilling lament for the White House, “Cold Cold Feeling,” the catchy backbeat of “Guantanamo,” and the stately country jaunt of “Going to Temple.” If the Occupy folks are still looking for a soundtrack this election year, “Special” is one-stop shopping. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “Cold Cold Feeling”

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