Single Review: Naz and Ella's ‘Wake Up America! (Ban The Gun)'
‘Wake Up America! (Ban The Gun)’ is a no nonsense, no frills, protest song about the glaringly obvious problem with gun control in America. The message isn’t hidden or vague in the lyrics, instead it stands as the ultimate driving force behind the track.
Naz and Ella had a point to make, so they took the facts and gave them an accessible platform.
On the subject matter of the track, the duo said:
“We drew inspiration from two tragic, yet, contrasting incidents from 2017, to subvert the notion that guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The two events in question being the accidental shooting of a 7 year old by his younger brother, who mistook the gun for a toy, and the mass school shooting in Florida that took the lives of 17 people.
By using real place names and events, the pair manage to evoke an appropriate sense of injustice in the song, there is little left to the listener's imagination.
There is no differentiation, either in the vocals nor the music, between the accidental shooting of the child and the premeditated murder of the school shootings. Instead, the feminine tone of the two voices with their gentle deliverance create a sombre impression around both incidents. This aids in pushing the message they sought to explore, that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” In the end both fatalities could have been prevented by gun control.
Vocally, Naz and Ella bridge the gap between two singers just having a jam and being a typical folk duo with their seamless harmonies, much like their influences First Aid Kit.
They use their harmonies here to create an urgency around lines written to shock and enrage the listener, “A fatal mistake” and “Angry with the world, he shot seventeen down” to highlight a few.
Musically, the track is understated, with just acoustic guitar and a distant drumbeat accompanying the vocals. This is reminiscent of the folk sound the pair cultivated on their 2017 debut EP 'In 'Limbo, wherein they targeted other social and political subject matter like Brexit, the freedom to love and homelessness.
The tempo is at a mid range, not too melancholy but slow enough to give the listener room to contemplate what is actually being conveyed, complimenting the simple approach to the lyrics.
The bridge section is even more sparse instrumentally, with a haunting emptiness that encourages the listener to tune in to the lyrics.
There’s a hopefulness and a unity explored here that counteracts the bleakness of the verses:
“500,000 young voices unite
Marching and roaring in rage
500,000 young voices unite
Marching in hope for a change”
In its repetition and evident seclusion from the rest of the song, the bridge reaches the listener as more of a chant or a prayer, giving a platform to others who seek the justice that the track promotes.
‘Wake Up America!’ is, overall, a poignant offering from Naz and Ella, with a folk storytelling core and a basic, yet effective, melody.
They have a real passion for using their music as a space to explore topics that deserve a platform, and let’s hope this track is the first of many more releases in the future.