Everlast is smack-dab in the middle of an identity crisis,
and on Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey
Ford, it shows. Part of the artist formerly known as Erik Schrody is still stuck in the House
of Pain, hip-hop roots of his past, while another part is trying to continue
the “What It’s Like” bandwagon into a Johnny Cash-like future. While Schrody’s
popularity may be based in his dual worlds – one rap, the other acoustic rock –
neither can survive while the other lives (kind of like Harry Potter and Lord
In other words: Everlast can’t be truly good at one until he
gives up the other. Unfortunately, on Love,
War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford, both sides are out in full mediocre
effect. On 16 very long tracks, Everlast exhibits his schizophrenic display to
write interesting, thought-provoking material that other people just happened
to write first (“Naked”); clichéd, boring lyrics (“Everyone”); and some stuff
that’s just plain bad (“Die in Yer Arms”).
If it sounds like it’s all been done before, it has.
Everlast’s whole career can be reduced to this schtick (as genuine as it may
seem): Chronicling the tough American experience by crafting tales about society’s
lower classes, comprising drug dealers, prostitutes and outcasts. In classic
stereotype fashion, Everlast proclaims he’s got his pick-up truck, his gun and
the taste of whiskey in his mouth, and he’s ready to shine a light on all the
badness in the world. Too bad, then, that he chooses to highlight problems he –
or musicians better than him – have already focused on.
See: “Weakness,” which is pretty much an exact copy of his
own earlier hit, “What It’s Like” (both spin yarns of a woman done wrong by the
world around her, forced into prostitution and drug addiction, “this weakness
is my only friend,” etc.).
Or, “Die in Yer Arms” and “Dirty,” both of which cop
industrial-sounding, almost Nine Inch Nails-like beats for Everlast to use as a
background for lyrics such as, “She’s looking so young/ She’s smelling so
pretty” on the former and “I’m so dirty, call me ‘Daddy’/ You’re so sexy, you
could be my bad girl/ If someone hurt you, and you tried to hide it/ I’d cut
you deeper, cuz I know you like it” on the latter. Gross.
Or, “Everyone,” which – with a chorus of “Everyone cheats,
everyone lies/ Everyone suffers and everyone cries” – sounds disturbingly
similar to R.E.M.’s depressingly beautiful ballad “Everybody Hurts.” Similarly,
“Naked” sounds a lot like something Rage Against the Machine would have written
a decade ago, with lyrics such as, “The rich, they get richer/ The poor, they
get poorer/ … It’s time to revolutionize/ Organize/ Weaponize.” Where’s Zack de
la Rocha when you need him?
The final nail in this coffin, though, comes in the form of
Everlast’s cover of “Folsom Prison Blues,” Johnny Cash’s classic. But this is
not your ordinary remake – Everlast layers his delivery of the lyrics over both
“Folsom Prison Blues”‘s original instrumentation and the beat from House of
Pain’s “Insane in the Membrane,” creating a warped, amazingly amateurish
version of Cash’s classic that can be commended for its creativity (kind of?)
but not much else.
Overall, the good parts of Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford come very few and far
between. There are some moments of poetic prettiness – such as on “Friend,”
when Everlast proclaims, “There’s a sickness in my soul/ And I don’t know, but
I’ve been told/ It’s incurable/ There’s a darkness in my heart/ Slowly tearing
me apart/ It’s unbearable” – but overall, it’s an awkward juxtaposition to hear
the singer-songwriter go from talking about abusing a girl on one song to
encouraging the working class to rise up in the next.
Simply put, Everlast is no Eminem, nor is he Johnny Cash –
and after this Love, War and the Ghost of
Whitey Ford, hopefully he’ll realize it’s finally time to put Whitey Ford
Standout Tracks: None.