Mark Erelli's fifth effort is the rare treatise that works both as an artistic and political statement, an attentive examination of current times interwoven with matters of the heart.
Erelli carried these songs around for several years, with thoughts of September 11 and some personal missteps stewing in his brain, nagging at him. "Imaginary Wars" and "Seeds Of Peace" not only feature cutting denunciations of Bush and the war in Iraq, but also keen reflections of love lost. His emotions straddle the ground between the personal and the political.
Hope & Other Casualties is a protest in the tradition of Dylan's early work, but one balanced by love songs ("Snowed In", most notably) that are as splendidly sentimental as anything by James Taylor. Erelli's impassioned words soar among the basic folk and rock arrangements with a deprecating wit and knowing cynicism that renders his insightful thoughts on battles and the resulting scars all the more impressive.
"Here & Now", a plea for the homeless, could have come off as cornball, but Erelli's aim is epic and almost pious. "Someday we all will have a home/Somewhere so high above the clouds," he sings as the band locks in on a Byrdsian jangle, completing a connection to nearly half a century before, to feelings that continue to resonate in our world today.