Jon Brooks is a Canadian singer/songwriter with a firm view of his role in the world “I want my songs to be three and half-minute pills which, if digested, induce upon the listener empathy toward others.” The music here suggests that he is very good at doing exactly that. The opening song ‘War Resister’ tells the story of Jeremy Hinzman, a notorious Iraq war resister who refused to go with his unit to Iraq and paid the price. The song carries a sense of the split in his mind in the vocals bust also in the delivery; weary and disturbed vocals over a simple acoustic guitar and kickbox. This could be Steve Earle or even John Prine and he gets the point across brilliantly. Brooks is very much the protest singer, railing against the iniquities of modern society – ‘The Crying Of The Times’ – or the lack of justice in the world. In ‘God Pt. IV’ he suggests a conversation between John Lennon, Larry Norman and Bono based on Lennon’s conversation with God in 1970 while the improbably titled ‘If We Keep What’s Within Us, What’s Within Us Will Kill Us, But If We Give What’s Within Us, What’s Within Us Will Save Us’ looks at the growing separation of the haves and the have nots and the gradual destruction of the skilled jobs for socially useful jobs as shelf-stackers and peanut vendors at the sports that the vendors can’t afford a ticket to. Like I said, a protest singer but he is enormously listenable to and while the songs cover painful subjects and the tone is unremittingly negative this is a massively worthwhile album and one to take a great deal of satisfaction from.