No one confronts the abyss better than Chris Orrick. The Michigan ex-factory worker formerly known as Red Pill has spent the last half-decade documenting industrial decay, familial pain, and struggles with addiction better than almost anyone inhabiting this poisoned soil. It's somewhere between Charles Bukowski and Michael Moore, or maybe Atmosphere if he couldn't ignore the arsenic in the air.
As Orrick tells it, Portraits, his latest album for Mello Music Group is a return to form. "I tried to strip everything down to what I think I'm best at: simple, concise portraits of who I am. Whether that be finding myself through self-portraits, portraits of everyday workers, portraits of the current political moment or portraits of myself told through the eyes of people I encounter daily."
From the corroded arteries of the blue-collar heartland, Orrick emerges as one of the most incisive and savage critics of Trump's America. If the American dream is dead, he unflinchingly lays the blame on avaricious corporations, crude demagogues, and structural racism. There's nothing polemical about it: just warm-hearted, gin-flooded depictions of a life where there are few right answers but a litany of wrong ones. The somber piano-based melancholy and rugged drums of Portraits thump via an arsenal of producers including L'Orange, Exile, Apollo Brown, and Onra.