Critically acclaimed Austin-based singer-songwriter Matthew Squires has been releasing thoughtful, meandering audible candy for over a decade now. While his work has taken on many forms, his vocal styling and talented lyricism have remained a constant over the years. His latest track “Poor Men Southeast of Portland” was released in January, a self-aware, modern commentary on the American dream.

For context, the song is complete satire, and was written in response to Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.” From the perspective of “a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony,” Squires takes us on a ride with tortured vocals and a sense of humor that humbly brings a smile to your face, even with how hard everything seems to be right now. Further explains Squires of the song:

This song was written and passionately performed by Anthony Oliver, a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony.

Oliver Anthony told Joe Rogan that he chose ‘Oliver’ as his stage
name in honor of his grandfather. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when hardworking, God-fearing white men got a little
respect (he forgot to mention how that respect was at the expense of
everyone else’s, or how it was largely enabled by unions).

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Anthony Oliver told Roe Jogan his
name was inspired by Casey Anthony. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when Americans could still unite around our fleeting
spectacles, and weren’t yet confused as to which ones were astroturfed
by right wingers.

The lyrics seem like a poignant call for justice. And they are, but in jest regarding privileged white males (who victimize themselves in a world where they have largely benefitted from every oppressive system ever built).

Baby, I’ve been working
for too damn long for too little pay
Don’t know nothin’ bout Marx or Freud
but I know what it’s like to play
the role that someone else designed
to make someone else’s day
but the tree of justice blooms upon
the top of every grave

Love’s a lot like dyin’
Love’s a lot like a Pepsi inside a church
Love’s a lot like flyin’
Love’s a lot like a heaven encased in Earth
Love’s a lot like cryin’
Love’s a lot like the space ‘tween death and birth

Poor men southeast of Portland
awake from their American dreams,
they enlist into the culture wars
to distract them from their screams
about how they feel about their shame
to look their children in the eyes
I guess the tree of justice blooms
upon the question “why?”

The unique way Squires expresses his rage is entertaining, and honestly an earworm. Check out the track below.

Meredith Schneider