Back in 2015 when I heard David Ramirez’s voice for the first time, I compared it to a tall tale, and that seems even more apt on his new album We’re Not Going Anywhere. Ramirez, who is biracial, half Mexican and half white, intends that the record stand as a buttress against the political upheaval of the current moment, particularly as someone whose heritage has fallen directly under attack by the President of the United States himself.
But the dark country blues of the album is not an overt message, hammered home; instead, Ramirez stands his ground by refining and compressing his sound, creating rebellious, lonely and soothing music in the face of such upheaval. Specifically the lead single “Watching From A Distance” is a blinkered country ballad for the most stubbornly broken-hearted about not being able to let go. Instead of despair, the song makes an argument for a connection that goes deeper than words or physical proximity, one that’s as natural and eternal as the moonlight.
“Most times, when a relationship ends, there is a season of mourning but then the clouds part, the sun rises, and we move on,” Ramirez said of the track. “What happens if and when the sun doesn’t rise? What happens if, no matter how hard we try, we can’t move on?” I’m not sure if the song gives us any answers, but it certainly gives voice to this kind of helpless affection without making it feel hopeless.
Elsewhere on We’re Not Going Anywhere, like on the excellent, tongue-in-cheek “People Call Who They Wanna Talk To,” Ramirez further explores the ways we form and break intimate connections, and how those attachments impact us in an era of distrust and oppression. He’s built on the folksy sound of his past and emerged with a new album that moves toward midnight Americana during one of the darkest nights of his country’s soul — and the resulting record is a collection of sad-eyed songs that are uplifting in their honesty, courage, and tenderness. This time, all the stories are true, and that’s part of their staying power. [Caitlin White, Uproxx]