Johnny Philko's Songs to Swear By is a collection of bluesy rock numbers that would fit nicely in a '70s arena. This is rootsy, American music reminiscent of Warren Zevon ("Shoot Me," for example), early John Hiatt, Hot Tuna, and, to some extent, Neil Young ("Ruby Ridge"). The Cleveland, OH, group hardly seems contemporary with their guitar solos and bar rock pomp, but their focus on Waco, Ruby Ridge, civil liberties, and Libertarianism is certainly unique. "What About Me? (Mr. President)" is a solid and serious tune with some emotional heft and gently melodic guitars that recall Jefferson Airplane and a late-'60s sense of questioning authority. Still, as uncompromising as their subject matter is, Johnny Philko's music is quite safe. Songs to Swear By definitely isn't the most groundbreaking record of 2002, but for those looking for some straight-ahead U.S. of A rock, it's sure to please.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano