Blue October – 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.
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