Charles Luck & Tino Red – ‘Pray’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Charles Luck of the Black Astronaut collective, a frequent recurring feature here on the site. Like much of his more recent work, Luck has partnered with another Black Astronaut talent, Tino Red, to write and release their newest single, ‘Pray.’ Dropped four days ago and written by both Luck and Red, the new single digs into some hefty subject matter.

Luck’s lyricism, in particular, often has two sides: intense levity or elegant poetic prose. More often than not, his work lands on one end of that spectrum or the other. On ‘Pray,’ Luck and Red explore a rather destitute landscape of hopelessness and societal strife. The two songwriters solemnly refer to areas like the South Side of Chicago as “barren gallows of pain” in a country where “hope was sold and us hopeless souls got roped and rolled into the hole again.”

Red’s performance is terrific, perfectly capturing his frustration with the social issues ‘Pray’ highlights. A faith, of some sort, seems to keep Red sane, because a solution to these problems is never addressed on the track. Truthfully, one can’t expect a solution. To draw lines back to Chicago, the city attempts to put endless bandaids on violence, crime, and impoverished communities with little opportunity – a bandaid just can’t mend a gaping wound.

“I swear I promise the fright when your rights aren’t right and the size of your pride starts shrinking,” Red sings on the song – a really profound, terrifying lyric. The rights of people living in communities like that depicted in this song aren’t right. Though ‘Pray’ uses religious themes to offer solace in a hectic world, it’s arguably a protest song above all.

The production is jammed with electronic-rock themes, akin to Imagine Dragons or the like. (As the RapPad page actually suggests.) It’s very explosive and immediately catchy, even if it’s not the most artfully memorable execution of music production in the Black Astronaut catalog. ‘Pray’ has a unique drive to its sound, though, energizing, if not angering the listener about the distressful circumstances it depicts.

I’ve gotten a lot of politically inclined music across my desk in the last week due to the (more) volatile nature of the United States recently. Even if it wasn’t intentional, Luck and Red’s new tune actually fits into that overarching narrative of fighting seemingly unending, wrongfully empowered forces of ill-will in the world. Check out the song above.

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