Master guitarist and musical chameleon Ry Cooder tackles some serious subjects with characteristic wit and humor on Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down. Taking a cue from his hero Woody Guthrie, Cooder delivers a batch of topical and political songs in the grand folk music tradition. He takes on greedy bankers waiting on a handout on “No Banker Left Behind,” the plight of illegal immigrants on “Quick Sand” and “Dirty Chateau,” and the home front realities of modern war on “Baby Joined the Army” and “Christmas Time This Year,” the latter set to an upbeat Mexican accordion melody (by Flaco Jimenez) that belies the horror of the lyrics. “I Want My Crown” and “No Hard Feelings” takes aim at resource speculators, oil barons, and war profiteers, and “If There’s a God” is a funky satire about legislation that limits entrance to heaven to the wealthy. Cooder has long been partial to concept albums and this one flows especially well thanks to good stories, a stellar backing band, and his own distinct blend of Tex-Mex, soul, blues, and gospel. His voice is in fine form, too, as he tweaks it slightly from song to song to fit whatever character he’s representing at the time.