Album Review: Undercover Hippy's Truth and Fiction
by Polly Hember
The Undercover Hippy Bill Rowan’s new album Truth & Fiction is a powerful masterpiece that weaves together humour and shrewd political commentary to create a catchy, fun and renegade modern protest album that could not be more relevant.
The new album responds directly to the perturbing current political climate, from Donald Trump’s presidency, to the snap-election in the UK, the supposedly “strong and stable” Brexit transition to the wreaking and dangerous situation in the middle-east. Rowan manages to produce hard-hitting and resonating lyrics set to renegade, rapping and reggae beats which are insanely catchy and enjoyable. The first track “Rise and Fall” holds no punches, and directly confronts our hegemonic society, sharply stating that “that everything that rises must fall”; an optimistic reminder of our corrupt but transient political-state with a tongue-in-cheek half-cry for rallying revolt and revolution. “Truth and Fiction” is equally as sharp and catchy, confronting the bizarre reality of fake news.
Another triumph is “You Keep On Telling Me”, playfully pointing at the inequality and laughable political ambitions of parties like UKIP and their disregard for altruism, compassion and empathy. The humour and Rowan’s signature unbeatable optimism brings this album together; alongside the sharp socio-political commentary are songs like “Mate Like That”, which bring a personal light-heartedness and jaunty hilarity to the music. Reminiscent of his previous hit “Boyfriend” from his 2014 Monkey Suit, “Mate Like That” combines witty rhymes with the narrative of a night gone wrong. Speaking about the writing process for the new album, Rowan admitted:
“for a while I was a bit worried that the last album Monkey Suit might have been the best I had to offer, especially when 3 weeks before going into the studio we still only had 5 songs written for a 10 track album! But actually, the songs that have been written and developed during and after the recording process are probably my favourite tracks on the album. It’s also meant that those songs are still really topical, as I’ve literally been writing lyrics and recording vocals right up to the final week of mixing. So yeah, I’m really happy with how it’s turned out”. Undercover Hippy has proved he has much, much more to offer, presenting infectious reggae rhythms with folky protest roots, delivered with playful dynamism.
Anyone that has seen The Undercover Hippy live before knows half the appeal of the festival-ready, feel-good reggae lies in the lively, high-energy set he delivers time after time again. With the album released May 20th, launching in Thekla with all of Rowan’s “Bristol Peeps”, it’s set to be a fantastic night witnessing and celebrating the dynamic, innovative talent of the modern day protest rapper.
Praise for Undercover Hippy:
“This is about as real as music gets!” - Andrew Marston – BBC Introducing
“This group are so ludicrously tight” - Gigsoup.co.uk
“Best surprise of the weekend was Undercover Hippy, former DJ Billy Rowan’s four-piece whose modern protest songs in a reggae and rap style were just fantastic. If you’re going to track down just one of these acts make it this one.” - Bournemouth Echo
Make sure you catch Undercover Hippy on the rest of his tour, and check out the brilliant new album, out now!
May 03 - Komedia - Brighton, United Kingdom
May 05 - Watering Hole - Perranporth, United Kingdom
May 06 - The Junction - Plymouth, United Kingdom
May 07 - Exeter Phoenix - Exeter, United Kingdom
May 10 - The Maze - Nottingham, United Kingdom
May 11 - Gullivers - Manchester, United Kingdom
May 12 - Hagglers Corner - Sheffield, United Kingdom
May 13 - Wolves Civic Hall - Wolverhampton, United Kingdom
May 14 - Hi-Fi Club - Leeds, United Kingdom
May 17 - The Horn - St. Albans, United Kingdom
May 18 - Joiners - Southampton, United Kingdom
May 20 - The Borderline - London, United Kingdom
May 20 - Thekla - Bristol, United Kingdom
Jun 10 - Alresford Music Festival - Alresford, United Kingdom
Jun 11 - Chapel Arts Centre - Bath Jul 15 - Jurassic Fields Festival - Bridport, United Kingdom
An acoustic version of "Bristol Peeps"