The singer and songwriter Michael Penn started out his career more than 30 years ago with the lovelorn power-pop hit “No Myth.” But Penn’s career moved slowly but surely toward the world of scoring movies and TV shows. (When you score the first two Paul Thomas Anderson films, that kind of thing will happen.) It’s been 15 years since Penn released Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947, his last proper album. Today, Penn has returned with “A Revival,” his first new song since then.
Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that Michael Penn still knows how to write a song. After all, his wife and contemporary Aimee Mann has been steadily cranking out excellent work for decades. But it’s still cool to see Penn showing up with a new track. “A Revival” shows that Penn can still write some lush, sophisticated, intricately layered hooks and that he can still hit the kinds of notes that make you feel things.
“A Revival” seems to be a song written with election day in mind. Penn never mentions anyone but name on the track, but his target is pretty clear: “You got the look of a winner/ You got zero sum game/ And each body that falls in the ditch/ Well, he’s just got his own self to blame.” It’s ultimately an optimistic song, with Penn singing about how a change is coming. Fingers crossed. Listen below.
“A Revival” is out now, and all proceeds go to the economic justice nonprofit The Poor People’s Campaign.