Paul Maged Goes All Out on New LP Culture War
On Culture War, the latest Long Player from producer, singer, songwriter, (and most likely) guitarist Paul Maged, the music is loud, the lyrics are heavy, and the tempo for nearly 80 percent or more of the 10 tracks is swift. Inordinately so, in fact, in most instances and, with an overt, attention-grabbing style that’s difficult to ignore, the artist maximizes the time he has you under his sway with his songs.
As brash as the electric guitars are, and as rapidly as the live drums get your adrenaline flowing, the most salient aspect of this collection of tunes is the lyrics. Take a number like “Simplicity”, for instance, which is an ode to the elimination of complexity, as plaintive as such a thing may sound. Maged invokes personification and apostrophe in a way most high school English teachers would adore. On the title track he takes on issues as universal as love and hate, chattel slavery, human rights and issues of homosexuality—sometimes in the same line or couplet.
But it’s not until “We Are” that he fully reveals his hand, unabashedly acknowledging that “we are the poets and the dreams/ sharing our truth upon the stage.” This admission is important not only because it illustrates his approach to songwriting (and production), but also because it reveals to his audience the true intent of poetry, which is oftentimes forsaken for flowery epithets and a plethora of the aforementioned poetic devices.
True poetry (like drama) inspires, examines, reflects, and details social issues in a way that is more direct than almost any other artistic medium available. On many of Culture War’s tracks Maged elucidates this point, surfacing opinions and fodder for intelligent conversation that’s largely lacking in today’s music scene.
His particular brand of musical ethos, however, is something along the lines of traditional rock and roll. His electric guitars are ferocious; bass lines throb yet move as adeptly as the drums do. On almost all these cuts there are intense listening moments when the bass and guitar are playing the same melody; on some of them, such as on “When Dreams Don’t Come True”, this conjunction includes the singer himself. Ultimately it’s this intensity, supported by meaningful lyrical phrasing, that makes Culture War the compelling album that it is.