Following on from 2016’s hugely acclaimed One Of Us, Good Citizens raises the stakes and signals the ascent of Cash Savage and the Last Drinks as one of the heavy hitters of Australian music’s new era. An incandescent live band at the height of their powers, led by mighty frontwoman Cash Savage, whose potent lyrics and impassioned delivery articulate the personal-political issues of these times with all her heart, guts and grit. Having towered over festival audiences at Golden Plains, Boogie and Sydney Festival, selling out The Corner in her hometown of Melbourne, and earning rave reviews for her recent packed-out Sydney show: (“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating and heart-swelling live band in this country” – The Music), Cash Savage and the Last Drinks are on a mighty roll. The band has also made serious inroads in Europe, playing to huge crowds at festivals such as Binic Festival (France), Rock For People and Colours Festival (both in Czech Republic).
Good Citizens begins and ends with a thought. “I’m thinking violence is the answer”, Cash Savage sings as the Last Drinks rally behind her.
Of course, it’s just a thought. And this is just a song. But the music Cash Savage is making is informed by real life — her own, and those of the people for whom violence, or the threat of violence, is inescapably real. The human beings who are called minorities and treated as though their lives matter less than others. The women and children on whom domestic violence is enacted, and those in the LGBTIQ+ community for whom violence is an implied or overt threat behind the rhetoric of “family values” and “good citizens”.
The album opens with “Human, I am”, ringing out with a phrase that resonates in the #NotAllMen era: “It’s okay, you’re not one of them”; a disclaimer that many minorities feel they need to use when articulating the oppression they experience. The lyrics that follow call “time’s up” on the need to apologise; “I know what I am, I’m not yours / Not a leader / Not a follower / Not brave / Not yours / I am human”. “We’re all humans,” Cash affirms, “which means we’re all part of the problem. And we’re all part of the solution.”
The first two singles released to date, “Better Than That” and “Pack Animals”, both bear witness to the damage that prejudice inflicts, in the form of hurtful scrutiny or mindless mansplaining. The title track was inspired by disbelief of the warped representations of “mainstream” Australia portrayed in the TV commercials screened during a sporting event. “You don’t need a job to be a good citizen,” Cash insists. “You don’t need to go to church to be a good citizen. You don’t need to be married to be a good citizen. But a little bit of empathy could go a long way.”
The album comes to a devastating conclusion with “Collapse”, a song Cash wrote for her daughter. “I hope she understands that the world is a violent place,” Cash explains. “She’s growing up in a world where there’s violence everywhere, but our privilege allows us to believe that violence is someone else’s problem. The wars that are fought are at a distance. A non-violent life is a privileged life, and fewer and fewer people are living that privilege.”
The politics of Good Citizens hit home all the harder for their juxtaposition amongst songs that are deeply, passionately, personal. The ache of missing a partner (‚February‘), the heady highs of falling in love (‚Sunday‘), and the triumph of knowing that love is indestructible (‚Found You‘). Even as it peers into the abyss of the anger and brutality that rock our times, Good Citizens burns with a fierce flame of belief in the goodness that may yet prevail.