Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down takes the the listener further along Ry Cooder's triumphal progress into his elder years. There is real poignancy in both lyrics and music, the same poignancy that found expression in the character of Kash Buck in I Flathead. The world has changed and not for the better; it's inevitably easier to see that with greater clarity at 64 than in your early twenties, his age when he recorded his first solo albums. Then he sang the blues, both of the dustbowl and the delta. Now he sings a perhaps more universal blues of loss and regret, but not of bitterness.
Above all, Ry Cooder is a folk musician - folk, as in regular people. Character is his forte as a singer - he has always found a voice in both his own and others' songs that expresses human quirks and idiosyncrasies, passions and follies in ways that the lyrics may only have hinted at. Ry is a true character actor, as well as being one the very best musicians working in America today. In this record he again he draws on the sadness and beauty of south-western border music; this is his home turf.
Characters populate Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down; the aging reprobate and his Mexican maid in Dirty Chateau, the sidelined working-class white man (Tea Party fodder) in Lord Tell Me Why, the Kash Buck-like old geezer of Dreamer. These people are real folk. We have known them. We are them.
Contemporary America is not a cultural or political climate to celebrate. No wonder Ry has God dismiss the whole damn thing in Humpty Dumpty World. We may be in a sorry political shape and in thrall to corporate power, but at its heart the people themselves are better than that - these songs find the beauty in their self-expression, however mundane. As with the work of the obvious comparison, Woody Guthrie, Ry has made a fundamentally patriotic record. John Lee Hooker For President.
And kudos to Ry and Nonesuch for the digital booklet. All downloaded albums should carry one. One of the worst things about digital music downloads as a commercial medium is the loss of liner notes, lyrics and pictures.