On his seventh CD, Mark Erelli continues to explore the themes of responsibility and redemption that marked his 2006 release "Hope and Other Casualties." There's an equal number of non-political tracks that also fit within the theme, but the focus is on the war in Iraq and the torture and other issues that surround it.
In the opening Hope Dies Last, the Lori McKenna sidekick looks at the war from afar, using an everyman perspective. He wonders how you can - or whether you should - continue living a normal life in the face of the problems in the world. Shadowland and Volunteers take the view of a soldier in Iraq. Together they offer a compelling picture of how they ended up where they are. As Volunteers reaches its emotional conclusion, the soldier accepts his personal responsibility, "Let the record show, I volunteered." Erelli both accepts blame and assigns it on a larger scale, to all those who have allowed the politicians to allow the war. In the final song, Abraham, he implores everyone to "rise up, rise up" and demands that the nation reclaim a moral ground more fitting for a more perfect union.