Songs that straight-up tell you they’re about America are tricky. They can veer so easily into grandstanding or cliché. The ones that don’t — the songs that say something real and honest about the United States — are often sad and conflicted. Then we as listeners overlook those darker aspects in our collective memory in order to make said songs more easily enjoyable at 4th of July barbecues. This irony isn’t new.
What’s fresh about Rainbow Girls’ “American Dream” is how poignantly the North Bay trio captures the changing shape of this country’s broken promises — without soapboxing. This song knocks the wind out of me. Vulnerability, stubborn hope and deep, overwhelming grief all leak through the spaces between the words and the harmonies and the fingerpicked guitar.