Toronto singer/songwriter Jon Brooks is the latest in a long, honourable –and depleting — line of folksingers who write and perform to further the cause of social justice.
The 13 songs comprising Ours and the Shepherds offer a clear-eyed, sharp-minded and big-hearted series of snapshots of Canada at war, encompassing the two world wars, Korean War, conflicts in Bosnia and Rwanda and mission in Afghanistan. Brooks has deep compassion for the men and women who are wounded — psychologically and spiritually as well as physically — by war. But he has intense contempt for those, especially politicians, who cower in the face of moral responsibility. As direct, immediate and powerful as Brooks’ message is, he never forgets that he’s a songwriter and that, to be successful, art must not surrender to propaganda, however well meaning and deeply felt. Ours and the Shepherds is an important album in these confused and troubling times.
– Robert Reid