“This street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm has a lot to say about love, loss, and the state of the world at large”
From Fremantle in Australia, singer-songwriter and poet Billie Reid offers independent music fans his own unique lyrical and musical vision with his début LP, ‘Ticket Out Of Dizneyland’. From the first track onwards, Reid breaks out of the blocks with the violence of rap, delivering a stream of barbed couplets and kickass lyrical imagery, delivered through the musical force of punk. Throughout the LP, Reid’s lyrics traverse a range of different topics, both personable and political, which are always delivered through his cocksure lyrical stylings and artistic idiosyncrasies. Put more simply, Reid is a poet and he mother-fucking knows it. Throughout the LP, Reid’s uncompromising spirit shines through the course of these 14 tracks. This is a man with ambition; a man whose footsteps aim to re-find the path set down by the luminaries of the independent music scene. While the machine-gun delivery of his words recalls the lyrical fire and brimstone of Bob Dylan, as well as the acerbic energy of Johnny Cash, the quick-fire musical vignettes that fill this LP bring to mind punk stalwarts the Wire. Resultantly, Billie Reid’s music is a volatile hybrid, combining the purebred folk compulsions of bluegrass and rockabilly, infused with Reid’s own punk-influenced approach to songwriting. This street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm has a lot to say about love, loss, and the state of the world at large.
On the title track, Reid outlines his musical manifesto, singing the strangely infectious central refrain ‘I ain’t got the time to live in Dizneyland.’ Reid aims to draw a dividing line between his dominion in the independent world, set aside from the cloying copycats resident in the pop scene, content to repeat stale formulas whilst fabricating faux outrages in an ad nauseam fashion. It’s clear that Reid is firmly camped in the territory of the musical underground in the ongoing ideological battle between pop and the unpopular; the mainstream and the underground. Specifically, Ticket Out Of Dizneyland is a strategic rallying cry which calls against the tyranny of pop. Reid reminds us how truly messed up the world in which we live is, when a Miley Cyrus twerk is liable to draw more press coverage and public interest than a drone strike sanctioned by our leaders. The plastic platitudes of the pop world are placed in direct contrast with Reid’s own righteous propaganda of truth.
The album consists of a range of short sketches which, despite their brevity, manage to outline an entire world. When he’s not attacking the world of pop, Reid summons the hypocrisy of our leaders on tracks such as ‘Ode To The Dudes (That Own Their Own Nukes)’, which features some barbed lyrical couplets running against some rugged guitar playing, curtsy of West Australian rock god Phil Bradley, whose musical curricular vitae is impressive, having also played with The Jackals, Sub Truck and Brutus. Bradley is able to match up with the unfurling lyrical attack of Reid, as Reid aims straight for the jugular, singing ‘They won’t let us live on the beaches/ they won’t let us live in the trees/ the bastards just lock us in stables/ And sell one another the keys.’ The lyrics appear to be born out of a particular brand of anti-capitalistic fervour aroused by the recent Occupy protests, with a call for an alternative beyond the current dire political outlook of partisan politics and limiting left/right perspectives.
Politics aside, there’s also a gentler, more tender side to his musical persona which isn’t perhaps as surprising as it might sound, given Reid’s status as an idealistic artist. On ‘Honey Skin’ Billie Reid simultaneously laments and praises a love which, he realises, he could easily end up taking for granted. Although the subject of the song is clearly a love he cherishes, he soberly realises that the relationship is likely to end one day, which he accepts as a matter of fact. ‘Black Silk Dress’ offers a 360 turn around, putting the listener in lustier lyrical territory, as he sings ‘Hey pretty lady in the black silk dress/ I want a taste of your sweet caress’ to dirty guitar licks and speed-freak rockabilly rhythms.
Reid himself has stated that ‘I write from heart when the spirit moves me’ and despite his volatile nature and his supremely confident presence on the LP, it’s clear that Reid’s will is good, as both an artist and a person. Billie Reid’s Ticket Out Of Dizneyland is a trip, providing the perfect antidote to the mediocrities of pop and the recent influx of anodyne cultural products released as a result of a dying music industry. If you like rootsy rock and roll with a touch of activism, romance, and an interest in all issues relative to the human condition, this is an album for you.