The world turning around us is becoming an ever more opinionated, polarized and divided place. Amidst the cacophony of 24/7 news coverage designed more to entertain than to inform, political correctness has taken center stage. In this maelstrom stirred up by unscrupulous politicians more concerned with maintaining the status quo than the welfare of their constituents, power and greed is placing innocent lives at risk.
Writing this from an ocean away, the idea that school children are not immune from gun-related injury and death seems an alien concept but then again I don’t live in the US, so who am I to judge? But the fact that more and more of the music landing in my review pile is loaded with political messages and social commentary means that perhaps the dam impeding change is closer to collapse under the pressure of an increasingly more compassionate world.
What is telling is that historically such politically-charged views originated solely along the fringes of the entertainment world Rock and roll, punk, hip-hop and the like were all born out of frustration by the marginalized in society. Today the torch is being borne by more mainstream voices. Sovereign Sounds‘ poignant, Where Do The Children Play, personifies such a voice. While a soulful pop song at heart, it is the minimalism and sparseness of the delivery from which it draws its power allowing the lyrical message to be the focal point, which is as it should be.
While the country rock lineage of bands such as The Eagles, and Crosby, Stills & Nash echoes in their sound, the fact that Sovereign Sounds was born out of a church worship band also plays into their music with a message. Songwriting from the late 60’s era of consciousness meets the sound of a new sonic gospel. How cool is that?
If music born out of Sunday worship leaves you thinking that perhaps this isn’t for you, think again. As their debut album The Eagle Has Landed clearly demonstrates, this diverse collection is not simply about delivering a message – though it does so brilliantly – it is music that you can fall in love with for a variety of reasons. The diverse, eleven-song playlist covers a lot of ground from the funky reggae of Barricades to Heaven to the jazz-blues of North Beach Tagging Blues to the soulful, west coast sounds of If I Could Touch The Sky. The fact that the title track channels that sonic prophet Neil Young is just an added bonus. Come for the music, stay for the message perhaps.
We try to deny what we can’t explain
Fallen pieces on the black squares
In a dead man’s game
Bullets flying young lives taken away
“Four more dead,” newsman said
Where do the children play?
Sovereign Sounds’ new album – and this song in particular – is validation that issues of great social/political import can be wrapped in a deft and dexterous, eloquent musical package. It asks the right questions at just the right time. The message is relevant to everyone no matter what their culture, colour, creed or political persuasion. Spreading the word never felt this necessary, this timely or this groovy!