Philly-raised songwriter Dave Hause blends the power-pop hook of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” with a punk-rock sneer on “The Ditch,” a scorching take on present-day political anxiety and the first track off his upcoming album, Kick.
The former leader of alt-rock band the Loved Ones and frequent tourmate of punk peers Brian Fallon and Chuck Ragan, Hause is no stranger to anti-Trump missives — see 2017’s “Dirty Fucker.” On “The Ditch,” he takes a more measured approach to the state of the country, accepting the situation for what it is: something he has no choice but to endure, or risk going crazy. “If I can’t make it out of this ditch/I better make a home of it,” Hause sings in the chorus, with a hint of resignation.
But he’s also searching for a kindred spirit, someone to “shake, shake, shake” through the nightmare alongside him. “Whether it’s the discomfort of wrestling with mental illness, or the realization that the whole world seems to have gone mad, this song is about committing to trying to survive the storm,” he says. “If you can’t change the circumstances around you, sometimes the only thing left to do is to try to make a home out of the wreckage.”
Hause’s keening vocal delivery and the Nineties guitar tone ratchet up the tension, before the whole thing explodes into one last cathartic plea. “I better make it home,” Hause repeats over and over, leaving it unclear if he’s finally accepted his fate or is hoping against hope that he’ll someday get back where he belongs.