There's No Love in This War


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There's No Love in This War Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

There's No Love in This War, the fourth album by Matt Arbogast, aka the Gunshy, arrived out of place and out of time, perhaps deliberately so. The songs are taken chronologically from the 17 letters Arbogast's grandfather Paul wrote his fiancée, Julia, from the European front during WWII. In 2005, the album would have slotted beautifully into the festivities commemorating the 60th anniversary of that war's end, and acclaimed as a fitting tribute to the heroism and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation. In 2007, however, it took on a far more nuanced portrait, darkly echoing against the modern canvas of Iraq and Afghanistan. Paul Arbogast comes across as an everyman: smart enough, but not well educated, with an independent streak willingly forsaken for the good of his country; a good soldier, but not above occasionally questioning and grumbling; and a living example of still waters running deep. The sparse and mostly acoustic music, with a few rocking exceptions, provides unobtrusive backdrops to Arbogast's myriad details of daily existence, declarations of devotion to his wife-to-be, and introspective musings about life and death, with hope for the future a near constant refrain. The lyrics are terse, his grandson's delivery nearly strangled at times, but it's strongly effecting nonetheless. Listeners will find their own modern echoes, from Arbogast's friend's suicide reflecting the Pentagon's announcement that suicides have reached a 27-year high, to the interminable waiting to get home, to the vengeful killing of two men (whether prisoners, injured soldiers, or hapless enemy civilians is unclear). War is hell, states the threadbare adage, and by extension, regardless of the justness of one's cause. No album drives home that point better than this.

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