Powerful set of political and personal songs.
‘Political’ songwriting is all too often assumed to be shouty simplistic protest, and all too often it is and therefore tends to be ignored by those who should take the most notices of it. Canadian Jon Brooks knows this and his songs are songs first and messages second. The result is a powerful set that cuts to the heart of all that matters, and one that Brooks, a man with a powerful and at times brutally clear-sighted vision, has created armed only with an acoustic guitar , a harmonica and a gritty ragged voice.
War Resister tells the story of Jeremy Hinzman, the first American soldier to desert because he opposed the Iraq war. It’s a compassionate view of a man who joined the army without really knowing why, whose whole life revolved round ‘breathe, trigger, squeeze’ until he saw the light, while The Crying of The Times is more a general work that questions how we can walk by on the other side when all that’s wrong with the world is staring us in the face. The political can be personal too, and the heartbreaking Small about the failure of a marriage whose participants only stay together for the sake of their child, is Springsteen-esque in its power and insight. Brooks always sees that there is hope though, no matter how small or hard to find, and his credo can be summed up in the title of the album’s centerpiece 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. Ending on There Is Only Love, a powerful expression of belief in the future, this is a real find of an album and Brooks a star in the making. JS