A lot of singer/songwriters pen songs with a conscience. But, unless they’re Bruce Springsteen, rarely do those tunes mix catchiness and a playful vibe with a biting edge and in-your-face social commentary. NYC’s Paul Maged, however, manages to achieve that tall order, rightfully earning his name a place next to Springsteen’s when describing his music.
Maged’s sophomore effort, Diamonds and Demons, navigates through climate change, human warfare, and religion, while never losing its rock ‘n’ roll soul. Though it feels raw in its production, that treatment lends itself both to Maged’s lyrics and his voice, that of a sometimes-actor/comedian. In lead single “Look at Me,” Maged takes on the younger generation’s apathetic disconnection and name-checks Wall Street (pretty appropriate when considering that Diamonds and Demons was in its infancy during the massive Occupy protests in 2011).
On the album’s titular track, Maged incorporates some good ol’ hard-driving rock, while the album’s other 16 tracks fluctuate between spiritual psychedelia (“Images”), power ballads (“I’m Gone”), and downright beautiful and soulful (“Annastasia”). Though it hits a few rough patches, Maged’s powerful voice is the glue that holds the album together and creates a cohesive package that any fan of modern rock can appreciate.
If you’re looking for mindless, synth-saturated, indie rock or power pop, this isn’t the album for you. If you are, however, bored to tears over that exact sound, then good news! Fresh, invigorating and even educational, Diamonds and Demons breathes new life into what some said was a dead genre. But, Paul Maged proves rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead; it just needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning.