Butch Walker has released many fine albums but never quite captured the incredible intensity of his live shows. Dave Hause – who shares Walker’s proficiency with hooks, wordplay and unrestrained performance – has nailed this trick on his third album.
Bury Me in Philly opens with the confrontational, powerful track With You. As the drums kick in, it’s hard not to imagine a sea of people singing “I want the next thirty minutes to feel like a fucking crime” back at him.
The sense of the live show appears throughout. The dedicated fans – from Hause’s time in The Loved Ones, on The Revival Tour, out with The Gaslight Anthem, and memorable solo tours – will surely embrace chanting “it’s always some dirty fucker/always some corner-cutting son of a bitch” in unison.
It’s not about swearing for the sake of it. It’s in the service of the song. That’s because Hause is explicit about being exploited. The venom with which he spits the song’s title Dirty Fucker speaks to his sense of injustice.
It’s a theme that also appears in Divine Lorraine: “we’re the ones whose work you put your name on/the ones who said those lyrics that you stole.” For Hause, songwriting and playing are about building something. In a blue-collar context, hard work and authenticity mean everything.
The importance of place in Bury Me in Philly is undeniable. Not just the title, for all the cracked bells and cold city streets that infuse the songs. It’s also set in a particular landscape familiar from Hause’s previous albums. The hills are still on fire, there’s still plastic trash. Often the surroundings seem threatening, trapping, inflexible. Like for Springsteen before him, dreams always seem just out of reach and he’s always searching for the promised land.
Increasingly, it seems the promised land is more about people and a feeling than a specific place. The interplay between music and people in Hause’s work is a constant; these are the things worth living for. Hause’s younger brother, Tim Hause, co-wrote much of Bury Me In Philly and together they experiment with key changes and instrumentation rather than substances, meaning there’s nuanced musicianship alongside the trusty chords.
Bury Me In Philly seems very much like a companion piece to 2011’s Resolutions and 2013’s Devour, continuing the journey through recovery, relapse and redemption. Religion haunts the scene but Hause sees hope in secular salvation – a communion of friends, lovers and – of course – brotherly love.
Do yourself a favour and buy all three albums!
Dave Hause’s third album, Bury Me In Philly, is out now.
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