Election Special

Ry Cooder has taken fans on a journey for nearly a half-century now. I first heard him playing behind Taj Mahal back in the late-’60s, and I still remember his eponymous first album played at innumerable gatherings. Then there were increasingly adventuresome excursions in musicology that laid the blueprint for what would become Americana and roots music, an ongoing homage to the past that has become a genre all its own. Cooder took us around the world, blending blues and gospel and rock with indigenous music from everywhere people were making noise that caught his ear. And always, undergirding it all, was his distinctive guitar work, along with an abiding political sensibility that takes center stage on this collection. On “The Wall Street Part of Town,” he gives vent to the sense so many have that the playing field isn’t even close to level. On “Cold Cold Feeling,” Cooder sings the blues from Barack Obama’s point of view, and it’s funny and angry and true. It’s also a damn good blues piece. If you’re upset about how things are, Election Special isn’t going to make your dissatisfactions go away, but it will give you some good musical company and a shared sense of outrage.