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Song Premiere: "Poison in the Cut" by Roger Street Friedman

Roger Street Friedman
23 September 2020

Roger Street Friedman – Photo Credit: Drew Reynolds

Sea Cliff, NY-based Americana singer-songwriter Roger Street Friedman is set to release a new stand-alone single, “Poison in the Cut,” which is about the scourge of racism, on September 25th via Nashville-based label Rock Ridge Music.

The award-winning singer-songwriter has consistently released honest, vulnerable songs that have won him praise everywhere from USA Today to No Depression – reflective vignettes recalling the singer-songwriter tradition of Marc Cohn and Robbie Robertson, set to a blend of folk-rock, progressive Americana, and soulful R&B. Friedman was bitten by the music bug early, learning to write songs and also developing his studio engineering skills.

It was an avocation, however, until a combination of events – the deaths of his father and mother, marriage, and, later, the births of his two children – steered Friedman back to music, leading to the acclaimed 2014 debut, The Waiting Sky, and 2017’s Shoot The Moon, which reached #2 on the Roots Music Report Americana Country Album Chart and spent 25 weeks in the top 20.

“Poison in the Cut” is the follow-up to Friedman’s critically lauded album Rise, which came out in April of this year and was produced by Grammy-winning producer Larry Campbell (a longtime collaborator of Levon Helm). American Songwriter praised the “poise of the arrangements and perfected production,” while Goldmine Magazine called it “sumptuous… [with] affecting musical vignettes… Inspiring and infectious… striking and seductive… It’s the culmination of a career that’s seen his reputation elevated to upper strata of today’s most consistent Americana artists.”

Big Takeover is pleased to host the premiere of Friedman’s latest track today, a few days before it’s officially released. Produced by Friedman himself and recorded in June at his studio, The Playroom, the reflective, but powerful song was written in response to the murder of George Floyd. “I think that left most of the country feeling disgusted and like we’d had enough,” says Friedman.

Joining Friedman on the track is the rhythm section of his band (Jim Toscano on drums and Matt Schneider on bass), who recorded their parts in their own studios. Jeff Kazee (of the Asbury Jukes), who played piano on the track, also supplied his portion from afar. Even though the band members were distanced, their contributions weave together seamlessly, as though the musicians had been side-by-side in the studio. Friedman is currently working on a video to accompany the song.

Potent lyrics with a relevant message of unity and healing are thoughtfully delivered by a ruminative and sincere Friedman and his band. The measured pace of brushed drums and sedated percussion and the interplay of a softly gleaming acoustic guitar line, twangier guitar reverberation, and lower register bass line creates a gentle nest for an emotive Friedman to warmly deliver his words. He poignantly sings about injustice and racial violence, lamenting that, We’ve seen all we can stand.” and explaining, “We are marching in our sorrow / We are marching in our rage.”

Friedman delves deeply into the meaning of “Poison in the Cut,” a song that resonates in today’s fractious and divided times, but also reflects upon the harsh history of endemic racism in the United States and its perpetuation to this day.

Friedman states, “The song is about the wound of racism that has never healed, even though the narrative we learned in school, in the movies, and on TV was that everything was ‘fixed’ with the end of slavery. You know, Lincoln freed the slaves, and all was well. That’s the original lie.”

“The song is about how racism has been inculcated into every segment of our society. Even after slavery ended, all the way through reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement, and after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there have been implicit and explicit biases that have held the African American community down. Ongoing discrimination in education, housing, healthcare, banking, and criminal justice has impeded the ability of entire generations to achieve the dream of true equality.”

“The song, written from the perspective of a white man who is standing with the African American community in this movement, envisions a reckoning with our actual history, not the mythology we were taught, by shining a bright light on this structural racism as a way to finally, at long last, heal the nation.”

Pre-Save “Poison in the Cut” HERE

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, being on the road is not possible at the moment, so fans eager to see Friedman live can do so via a series of livestreams from his studio. Each performance is scheduled at 7 p.m. eastern time. Friedman kicked things off on his Facebook page on September 18th.

He will play a special show sponsored by Isis Music Hall in Asheville, NC on the Mountain Spirit Coffee House Facebook page on September 24th, which will celebrate the release of “Poison in the Cut,” and he will round out the trio of livestreams back on his own Facebook page on October 9th to mark the release of his next single,“Carry Me (acoustic),” the same day.