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Single Review: Gil Karson and The Karson City Rebels – “Freedom Guaranteed”

Guided into the hearty wall of melodicism introduced by the guitars by a mere pressing of the play button, listeners aren’t given any option but to buckle up and enjoy the ride in the exciting new single from Gil Karson, “Freedom Guaranteed,” currently out everywhere that indie country, rock, and patriotic music is streamed. Inelegant and riddled with a brawniness that instantly grabs us the moment that it first appears in the mix, “Freedom Guaranteed” is an instrumentation-heavy track for its genre, but let’s get one thing straight – its greatest charm is its lead vocalist, Gil Karson. Supported by The Karson City Rebels in the background, this forward-leaning singer/songwriter gives us everything he’s got and then some in this fabulous new addition to the soundtrack of summer 2023.

When Karson starts singing, there’s a strong Americana bend to his delivery that grows with every beat he overtakes. He’s got a lot of energy, but he’s careful with how he applies it here; instead of chasing after the hook, he delicately approaches the grind of the instrumentation in the backdrop with a fierce dispensing of lyrics that will slowly but surely become more accessible as we press on. The tempo is swift, but there’s no reticence on his end with the execution of his mission. Even when he’s working with limited space in the mix, he’s got all of the attention on him (which is saying something when taking into account just how many intricacies are swirling around him in this song).

Homespun textures and tones have been everywhere you listen in the pop music spectrum, but how they’re incorporated into this single is perhaps the most curious quality of “Freedom Guaranteed.” Rather than depending on its postmodernity to create a narrative where lyrics would typically fall short, the beat is the greatest means of communicating a familiar, almost folksy element to us in this song (which is all the more ironic given its prominence in the mix and, more importantly, the forwardness with which it establishes a presence here). I get the impression from Karson that while he isn’t looking to rebel against the trends in his scene, he also isn’t looking to be a part of the crowd – he’s got too much passion and originality for anything else to be the case.

“Freedom Guaranteed” starts and finishes smoothly, and at no point does it feel rushed, thrown together, or scattered in its central narrative. This is only the first we’ve heard and seen from Gil Karson, but even without the assistance of The Karson City Rebels, I think it’s pretty clear that he’s working with a lot of real talent and a skill set that is well on its way to coming into focus very nicely. He has a ton of competition in the mainstream and underground alike, but if this is a good sampling of what he can do with significant limitations set in front of him, I can’t wait to hear what he produces in a more ideal setting.

Jordan Raab


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