“Sheep” by Mt Joy socially critiques the justice and police system in America, as well as how most people turn a blind eye to issues that don’t affect them, and how important it is for those in the position to help to do so. The main issue at hand is the police brutality, specifically in Baltimore, and how America continually fails to step up and treat it like a real issue and do something to fix it. The song starts with a lovely guitar solo and sets a very calm tone for the listener. However, despite the disposition between the music and content, which is typical in folk music, the very first lyrics of the song immediately start discussing issues within America. It doesn’t directly go right to discussing police brutality, but it starts off with setting the scene by describing another underlying issue. He begins with “Kids get high in the basement sometimes And tell themselves not to watch the screens” Right off the bat, he talks about how many Americans see all this terrible news on TV, such as these tragic stories, and just dissociate from that reality, get high, and look away or change the channel. But the matter of the fact is if you have the option of just tuning out this news and distracting yourself from it, you are privileged. Those kids in Baltimore can’t escape the violence like that because that is their reality, and there is a disconnect of different realities across Americans. Then in the next line, he continues to sing “it’s the blood that haunts me, I can’t fall asleep ‘Cause it’s ruthless, and don’t tell me you’re ruthless too.” In this verse, Quinn begins to personally open up about his opinion and his feelings and then asks the listener to start to think about the topic and how haunting it is. So right off the bat, he makes the observation how people just ignore this issue, then right away basically says “we’re not going to do that” in this song and sets the tone. When he sings “Maybe I was born in the wrong skin” he is addressing the fact that as a white man it is apparently uncommon to have this view and care so much about wanting to help, because most people are ignoring the issue unless they are in the minority and it’s affecting them. But the reality is black people are 3x more likely to be killed by white police, and 13 of the 100 largest police departments in the US kill black men at higher rates than the national murder rate. 

Since this song was released as a response to Freddie Grey’s murder trial, he specifically talks about “blood on the streets of Baltimore.” Even if you turn a blind eye to caring about these social issues, that rhetoric is strong and specific enough for anyone to hear it to know what this song is about. Grey’s murderers not having any criminal charges created an outrage across his hometown, but it should have also created enough shock and disgust in people to put more laws into action to make this issue stop, but America is not there yet. 99% of cases in 2015 have NOT resulted in any officers involved being convicted of crime. Another similar incident happened in September of 2017 to Diamontae Tyquan Farrar. An article about it along with video evidence of the incident was posted in The Baltimore Sun, a local news source, and just as suspected, the officer wasn’t charged guilty and the horrible pattern continues. Matter of fact, it was even reported that “a number of jurors congratulated him. They thanked him for his service.” This abuse of power and privilege has gone too far and the stories and accounts of it are getting more and more twisted, and the truth is getting manipulated because no one is stopping it from happening. There is no accountability for these actions and the only way for it to happen is if the people who can help work as allies use their privilege for good.

In this song, there are no real solid solutions provided. They aren’t definitive in any way, but Quinn does include a call to action on a certain demographic of people to handle this solution. It’s not specific to what should be done, but it’s realistic and effective since he acknowledges that what does need to be done needs to start with people who aren’t in the minority and have the ability to create change. The lyrics “Oh, it haunts me, tell me it haunts you too You cut it up, you cut it up, but it’s still the red white and the blue” describes how it’s troubling to him that people are going through this and again connecting with the listener to make them question their own feelings about how it should bother them as well. Then he describes that at the end of the day, this is what it’s like to live in America and be an American; some people are privileged and some are not, and you can easily live in your own bubble and ignore it or open your eyes and realize that this isn’t right. He also sings, “She said a change is gonna come, but it’s all on us” He knows that our generation has the capability to create change and the fact that it’s such a ruthless and horrible problem should be the main driving force for advocacy. In saying it’s on “us” he address the part he’s playing, creates a call to action as well as a sense of unity with the listener further encouraging them to help create change.