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ALBUM REVIEW | FOLK ROCK

Erin McKeown, ‘Manifestra’

Just about every note and lyric on Erin McKeown’s “Manifestra’’ is a step away from the norm. Yet the songs are so beguiling you can’t help but follow. Critiques of the status quo open and close the album, with “The Politician” being a broad sketch of dubious character, and “Baghdad to the Bayou” a broadside against war and corporate greed that draws its strength in a chorus of voices. She tackles the personal, sounding vulnerable on the probing “Delight/Divide” and empowering on “Histories,” a call to overthrow tyrannies born in tradition. McKeown eschews genre, crafting tunes from mechanical rhythm loops, spooky, fuzzed-out blues guitar, and lush strings. She swaps verses with Ryan Montbleau on the topsy-turvy “Instant Classic” and unfurls boozy theatrics on “That’s Just What Happened.” She pulls myriad ideas together on the epic title track, where she cites her values, sizes up her challenges, plots her course, and goes for it, finding clarity amid chaos. (Out now)

SCOTT McLENNAN

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ESSENTIAL “Manifestra

Erin McKeown performs Thursday at Brighton Music Hall.

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