The oncoming Trump train and just general end of the Obama era could have pushed folk musician Christopher Paul Stelling into full-on protest music with his new album. Instead, while there is some of that there in Itinerant Arias, it’s as much a spiritual record as a political one.
There are out-and-out Pete Seeger-esque agit-folk pieces such as “The Cost of Doing Business” and “Badguys” on Itinerant, but it’s really more of an Arias record. Opener “Destitute” describes poverty but doesn’t dwell in it, rather lifting up. “Stranger Blues” is a finger-plucking revival. And “Red Door” is a powerful uplift on suicide.
Stelling has been making strong alt-backwoods folk records for a while, with true authenticity to his voice and his guitar. Itinerant Arias continues that into this new, darker age.