Tomas Doncker: The Mess We Made (Album Review)

Tomas DonckerTomas Doncker’s album combines jazz and soul with politically-charged lyrics. Image credit: Malaika Beckford

With the Mess We Made, Tomas Doncker has produced an album with funk, jazz and soul influences and highly politicised lyrics. The record reflects social conditions in many of America’s large cities, racial tensions, and the often violent relationship between the police and urban youth.

Doncker’s dissatisfaction with the status quo is on full display from the outset as he sings in the opening track about the media taking his faith away. In the high-tempo track Church is Burning Down, which is also one of the singles on the album. He sings about a growing crisis in the nation with people “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

“Revolution” paints a picture of the difficult conditions of life in inner cities, attacks racism, and refers to how civil rights era political leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X would be “brokenhearted.”

Doncker’s title track, the Mess we Made, comes from a more individualistic point of view, taking a swipe at social media and the impact of technology on our minds, warning us not to drink the “cool aid” and risk “drowning in this mess we made.” While the lyrics take centre stage, the Mess we Made has a soul-influenced beat with an effective combination of funk and rock instrumentation.

“Don’t Let Go” is a total change of pace as Doncker tells the sad story of economic and social crisis over a melancholic acoustic guitar. He sings about the comparison between the conditions during the Great Depression of the 1930s and today, while criticising low-paying jobs for preventing people from living a full and normal life.

Some may say Doncker’s album is bleak. But this is hardly something the artist can be blamed for; it’s a political issue. Doncker has made an effort to portray current social conditions in America in his music, regardless of how brutal and unpleasant they may be. Some of his songs achieve that better than others. Personally, I find the message on Church is Burning Down and Don’t Let Go more convincing than other tracks like the Mess we Made.

Doncker is touring with his band in the US this summer. Upcoming performances include: July 9th – Sprout Music Collective, West Chester, PA, August 27th – Sprout Music Collective, West Chester, PA, September 11th – South Mountain International Blues Festival, West Orange, NJ.

Find out more about Tomas Doncker at his website, on Facebook or Twitter.