Excellent six-track EP addressing the social, political and cultural state of America.
The awkwardly named ‘Canadaigua’ is the solo project of the musician and multidisciplinary artist Raul Zahir De Leon. Having been away from performing for 10 years he has returned to writing with the wryly titled 6-track EP ‘Slight Return’. Its contents suggest that a ‘full return’ would be a welcome development.
Having worked in a number of outfits that failed to make any kind of breakthrough, Raul Zahir De Leon turned his attention to curating music, arts events and small festivals. He also set up two popular live music platforms in All Our Noise and WAMU’s Bandwidth which are worth checking out, containing as they do, a number of great sessions.
Having spent so much time creating platforms and exposure for other artists De Leon began to experience a fresh desire to return to his own art. Notes and memos that he had saved were used to create a new musical project that was driven by the social, political and cultural climate of America in recent years. The songs on the EP address the myths of America and touch upon such issues as immigration, race, American identity as well as police excesses and accountability.
‘A Dime and a Ribbon’ explores the role of immigration in America through the story of one modern-day individual who leaves behind a young family in search of new opportunities and a new life that he wants to create for them. However, the story could be set at any time in American history and portrays immigration as a shared or universal experience that should unite rather than divide the country.
The death of Deon Kay an 18-year-old, shot by Washington DC police inspired ‘Calm through the Clearing’ the song is a plea for society to acknowledge and respect the humanity of black people in America. Whilst ‘The Margins’ explores the difficulties of black youth in finding representations of themselves in literature and film.
Given the content of the songs and the fact that their author is a black man, you could be led to expect that the musical accompaniment to all of this might be the kind of jazz, blues, proto-rap utilised by the great Gil Scott-Heron. In actual fact De Leon uses a mixture of acoustic folk instrumentation supplemented by synths and samples creating a fresh and experimental feel to this splendid EP.