Various Artists “Songs Not Bombs Vol 1”

Independent, 2024

A generosity of spirit through the madness.

Songs Not Bombs Vol 1 album artThey say the skies of Lebanon are burning/ Those mighty cedars bleeding in the heat
They’re showing pictures on the television/ Women and children dying in the streets

Retaliation is so often out of proportion against the harbinger. The Palestinian population is being deliberately crushed. As always, it is children who face the brunt of any conflict. The lyrics above are taken from Paul Brady’s ‘The Island’. Penned nearly forty years ago they helped him clear a path through the sectarian violence enveloping his country. His song now finds a place on this album, the penultimate track sung by Carsie Blanton. She doesn’t have the ancient sorrow contained in Brady’s voice but her choice of cover is fitting.

The ‘Songs not Bombs’ movement was highlighted by Americana UK last week. Some readers may already be familiar with the various artists’ contributions. The twenty-one tracks were curated by musician Jordan Smart and he’s done a fine job. All are previously unreleased and include some live recordings or demos from twenty-one Americana artists who have united to raise awareness and funding for the welfare of children in the stricken Gaza Strip. 100% of the $25 spent purchasing these tracks will be given over to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, providing essential support for clean water, food, medical care, mental health care, education and humanitarian aid.

Given the cause, it seems harsh to review the music so generously given. But it does give AUK another opportunity to promote that cause and there’s a fair few gems in this compilation. From some middle-weights such as John R. Miller, who recently supported Tyler Childers on his UK tour, who provides a great live version of ‘Holy Dirt’. New Orleans quintet The Deslondes ask ‘What Can I Do?’ Back in August last year AUK featured the Deslondes as a band more people should know about. This track is great and the lyrics help lighten the load. “I had a home cooked meal/ and I didn’t like it/ made damn sure I ate every biteful/ it was made…with love by you.” John Moreland supplies a beautiful demo called ‘A Fool’s Errand’. Leslie Stevens does a wistful cover of Petty’s ‘Southern Accents’ and Desiree Cannon’s ‘Prairie’ demo provides an intriguing minute and a half. Where are those undefined vocals going? The Montvales have contributed a stripped-down version of ‘Woman of God’. There’s still the same harmony and reassuring banjo. If only women ruled the world. With no disrespect to any of the other artist the outstanding track comes from Cyrille Aimee & Handmade Moments. ‘Another War’ features Ten Spencer and Ashlin Parker. It is a glorious, jazz-infused snipe at our privileged lives. The trumpet playing is sublime.

So, while contributing to an incredibly worthy cause: ‘Songs Not Bombs‘ might also allow some readers to hear artists they are less familiar with. Let’s hope there’s some hope of deescalation in the conflict before volume 2 is considered. Heck, just buy it.


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