The Arty Semite

Monday Music: Chana Rothman's Pop and Politics

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Photo by Elise Warshavsky

Not every singer-songwriter can sing lyrics like, “You got a big heart, sweet like a Pop-Tart, bigger than Walmart” and hope to be taken seriously. But Chana Rothman can, and she does so on the bouncy first track of her new album, “Beautiful Land.” That track, somewhat reminiscent of Kimya Dawson (whose songs were featured in Jason Reitman’s powerful film “Juno”), is called “Shine.” The object of Rothman’s complimentary lyrics is a young person whom the singer is encouraging to grow up strong and proud of her individuality.

The Rothman we hear on “Beautiful Land” is clearly recognizable from her debut album, “We Can Rise,” but here she goes in new musical and lyrical directions. Her earlier music, though accomplished, was heavy-handed politically and religiously (there was no mistaking her left-leaning opinions), while her new songs leave more to the listener’s interpretation. If the former was a form of musical activism, the latter is a show of increasing artistry.

Listen to ‘Shine’:

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