Roger Waters has released Is This The Life We Really Want? through Columbia Records. This is his fifth studio album as a solo artist, and first full-length album of new material since 1992’s Amused to Death.
The LP features 12 songs covering 54 minutes, and was produced by Nigel Godrich. Band personnel include Roger Waters (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar), Nigel Godrich (keyboards, guitar, sound collages, arrangements), Gus Seyffert (guitar, keyboards, bass guitar), Jonathan Wilson (guitar, keyboards), Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Lee Pardini (keyboards), Joey Waronker (drums), and Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig (vocals).
Is This The Life We Really Want? finds Waters — who was the main lyricist in Pink Floyd during the bulk of the band’s career — very angry about present day affairs, and delivering his message with a snarl and defiant attitude. “The Last Refugee” touches on the issue of migration that Europe has been dealing with, as many have been calling the situation an ongoing Refugee Crisis since 2015 due to ongoing wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. One of Roger’s strongest political statements comes in “Picture That” with the fading lyric, “Picture a leader with no fucking brains.”
One of Roger’s most personal moments comes in the acoustic track “Broken Bones” where he references World War II, the war in which he lost his father. A jab at Donald Trump comes in the title track, which begins with an audio clip of Trump talking about the election and sets an ominous mood musically. During a verse, Waters nails the point down with thought-provoking lyrics, “Every time a nincompoop becomes the president,” in the context of a number of other tragedies.
For hardcore Pink Floyd fans, you can’t help but recall the Floydian sound in many of the tracks. “When We Were Young” feels familiar to the opening of The Dark Side of the Moon, and “Picture That” could have easily be included on Wish You Were Here. “Bird In A Gale” explores the feeling of isolation and uncertainty backed with an Atom Heart Mother vibe, “Broken Bones” could have been taken from The Wall, and the exciting prog-rock feel of “Smell the Roses” sets an Animals-esque vibe.
With terrorist attacks, corrupt governments, and social injustices rampant in today’s times, there’s an unsettling feeling being spread. To his credit, Roger Waters has never been one to back down from voicing strong opinions through his lyrics. Is This The Life We Really Want? does a wonderful job of addressing today’s issues while capturing universal emotions.
Is This The Life We Really Want? is available on Amazon. You can also stream the full album above, via Spotify.
Roger is currently out on a North American tour. For more, check out the Roger Waters Zumic artist page.