Blue October – Any Man In America

Blue October - Any Man In America

Album cover for Blue October's Any Man In America

Any Man In America started off as the newest record from Blue October centred heavily around the recent divorce and custody battle over lead singer Justin Furstenfeld’s daughter. The cover art is a drawing by his daughter while some of the photos on the insert are from the family photo album. He has become an advocate for the American legal system’s favourability toward mother’s in most circumstances by speaking with public officials to discuss shared parenting laws and other related issues.

Like previous Blue October records that I’m familiar with, they don’t hold back lyrically. Laying everything out in the open for public consumption. My first listen to Any Man In America had me feeling like I was sticking my nose where it didn’t belong. While a lot of songwriters will unleash their most personal thoughts in their lyrics, Justin’s lyrics take family matters to a new level for the band – though not completely new in music. A fair comparison on the subject matter would be with a lot of Eminem‘s early material. Justin himself makes the connection on the album’s title track Any Man In America, where the first verse seems to highlight the comparisons between the two, “A hip hop legend was skinned like invisible ink/Like even though he was whiter than me/He was the first to be colorless/Speaking for all of us/Then you let us into your family/Mother father brother sister wife daughter.” The difference however is that often times, those unfamiliar with Eminem might assume that his lyrics and subject matter are as such for shock value and could be fabricated whereas the same situation as it applies to this record by Blue October is nothing but serious.

The record starts off with the haunting The Feel Again (Stay) which first touches on the impending separation. With each subsequent track comes the divorce, custody battle and further separation from his daughter and the process of getting over his ex-wife and the situation that just passed, but with the reminder “you are what my album’s about/I might have been gone, but I never walked out.”

Musically, the record is harder than Approaching Normal while touching on some of the hip-hop influences that Foiled alluded to but finally raise its head with heavy beats such as on tracks like Any Man In America, which has a fine-flowing rap from Ray C. near the end which rips on the ex including the line “she goes through dicks like she goes through blouses”. Lyrically, it can be uncomfortable to listen to. You can’t help but feel like you’re being put in the middle of the situation by eavesdropping but it takes guts to write and record a record like this and stand behind it.

As a single entity, Any Man In America stands strong. More so than the last two records. As a resulting weakness, the individual songs need the weight of the ones before and after it to have full strength so selecting singles and it being the iTunes age makes it both difficult and will likely shorten any shelf life the record may have. However, none of those factors come close to the purpose of this record and Justin is aware, as he notes in the lyrics, that he likely will never have another Billboard hit. Four stars

Tracklisting
1. Everything (A.M. Limbo)
2. The Feel Again (Stay)
3. The Money Tree
4. For The Love
5. Drama Everything
6. The Chills
7. The Flight (Lincoln To Minneapolis)
8. Any Man In America
9. You Waited Too Long
10. The Honesty
11. The Getting Over It Part
12. The Worry List
13. The Follow Through

4 comments

  • Any Man In America and Foiled are my two most favorite LP’s by Blue October. Foiled helped me through my own recovery from addiction as music is often something I turn to for comfort or strength when I am struggling for any reason. Any Man in America is an AMAZING LP and I have to disagree with you on the “eavesdropping” issue. I guess I can kind of understand why some might have a hard time listening to it…especially women. However, I have been married to a man (for 13 years) who has two other children from previous relationships. The struggles we have gone through, the ways that the mothers think they can control EVERYTHING, the ways they are ALWAYS trying to get their hands in our pockets, etc..make it extremely easy to relate to what Justin has been dealing with. My husband…who is an AMAZING man and one of the best daddys in the entire world…has been so HURT by these two women trying to CONTROL HIM by keeping his children from us for one reason or another when there has never been ANY excuse for it! The sad thing is that even though my husband has been hurt…the KIDS have been hurt even more!! My husband wasn’t even TOLD about his oldest daughter until she was 12!! He had no idea she had even been conceived! The lyrics, “I may have been gone, but I never walked out” is a PERFECT description of his relationship with her. We found out about her when she was 12 and by the time she was 15 we had fully adopted her and she has been living with us ever since…and has NOTHING to do with her biological mother (for MANY reasons)! I think its absolutely WONDERFUL that Justin had the balls to sing about his personal relationship and the struggles he has faced with his ex-wife and the legal system!! It’s about TIME that there was some support out there for all the GREAT fathers in this world who are being kept from their kids simply b/c the courts side with the mothers 99% of the time! There are a TON of “dead beat dads” out there who dont DESERVE to have their children in their lives. However, there are also MANY men out there who would do and give ANYTHING to be with their children and aren’t allowed to do so simply b/c of the controlling behavior by the moms or b/c the courts dont take the time to listen and make the best choice for the CHILD! Men like my husband deserve to see their children more than once or twice a year! The mothers are not ALWAYS the best person to raise a child! In the case of my stepdaughter the mother was the WORST person that could have possible raised her…and because of that my amazing (step)daughter was abused in EVERY WAY you can possibly imagine…for 12 long, horrible years! I am THANKFUL to Justin and Blue October for putting some amazing, heartfelt music out there for all the GREAT dads in this world! it’s about time someone finally stood up for them!!

    • Thank you for your contribution. I agree with your thoughts about this album being extremely personal but necessary based on his situation that he isn’t the only one who has had this happen to him. While I don’t listen to this album as much as I still listen to Foiled, it is definitely an emotional and heartfelt album with personal lyrics that few would ever want to get into, so it’s commendable.
      Some of the songs on Foiled got me through some bad times too. They’ve remained amazingly consistent across their albums and I agree with you that they’ve put out some great music. Have you checked out their new album Sway? It’s a lot more optimistic than their others, and in a way that indicates that things eventually get better than they were. I hope things continue to look up for you. Good luck!

      • Yes, I have ALL their albums! My husband thinks “Sway” is a bit too “soft” (altho he does like it!) but as a lover of “contemporary” music I love the album. I do not think its quite as good as previous albums but I am glad that Justin has finally found happiness, love and a GOOD woman! Unfortunately all the BEST music is usually written from hard experiences and sorrow. I know personally that is when I write my best songs and poetry! Although there are a TON of amazing love songs out there as well! Usually though, I think that you have to either be in immense pain/sorrow or immense joy to put out your BEST material! You have to be PASSIONATE about the topic in order to fully tap into that “perfect artistic space!” I have had the opportunity to see them 4 times in concert as well and I got to go to a “meet and greet” the last time we saw them which was AWESOME!! I was able to get some autographs as well as speak to Justin and tell him how much his music has meant to me, my husband and my 21 yr old daughter! No matter WHAT he writes, their albums are ALWAYS amazing! I;ve really never heard a song by them that I DONT like! They are my absolute FAVORITE band and think they are completely UNDERRATED! There is so much crap (aka “bubblegum music”) on the radio today and most of it is about sex, drugs or other ridiculous topics. Most of which are a HORRIBLE influence on kids today!! It seems like we can’t go 5 minutes without hearing about some girls a$$, “ballin” or doing some kind of drugs! And this is what America wants to listen to? This is what they want their kids to hear? I don’t get it! There just aren’t enough bands on the radio that actually have TALENT anymore! We are overrun by “auto-tuning” and special sound effects which completely alter the ACTUAL voice of the artist(s)! I rarely listen to the radio anymore b/c of that (and the ridiculous amount the commercials!!) MOST bands/vocalists on the radio can’t even SING in reality! They often sound horrible in concert which a complete bummer, especially when you spend good money to see them, believing and TRUSTING that they can ACTUALLY sing! Thankfully, Blue October sounds EXACTLY like their LP’s and when you see Justin perform (heck, even when you just hear him sing on the stereo) you FEEL each and every word he sings. In my personal opinion I think they sound even BETTER in person, if that’s even possible!! It’s unfortunate that they will probably never make the charts again b/c they have more talent in their PINKIE fingers than a good 90% of other artists out there! I am a vocalist myself. I’ve made a few LP’s and have been competing and performing since I was TWO. In fact I was the “Country Music Female Vocalist of the Year” for 3 straight years..until I had a baby and stopped competing. So, I find it HIGHLY irritating that the ones that seem to “make it big” are OFTEN the ones who really have very little talent, simply having a “catchy tune.” I do admit that I like my share of “bubblegum” music when I want to just mindlessly sing or dance along to a song…or when we have our Karaoke parties. However, my preference is to listen to music that MEANS something! It’s so TRUE that “video killed the radio star!!” I do hope that one day the tables turn and our stations are once again full of ACTUAL TALENT instead of fake “stars” who hide behind all the “extra help” the have when recording their music! We need TRUE talent again….those who write their own music according to personal experiences and who believe and feel each and every word they sing! I am over all the “shake your moneymaker” crap! We need more bands like Blue October, more artists like Justin…and society as a whole needs much, MUCH better taste!!! LOL ~:)

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