Multi award-winning folk musician Rob Lutes has found inspiration in the life of Buddhist writer Jarvis Jay Masters, who has lived on Death Row in San Quentin since 1981. Masters’ memoir ‘That Bird Has My Wings’ takes the reader through a life of hardship via a series of recollections and stories. He continues to claim his innocence and the narrative that leads to his Buddhist conversion is full of pain and tragedy. However, Masters’ life-story and reflections are ultimately positive and revelatory, focusing on the flight of the bird seen from his cell window. He says: “When I think about the fact that society, a nation, has sentenced me to death, all I can do is turn inside myself, to the place in my heart that wants so desperately to feel human, still connected to this world, as if I have a purpose.”
Such weighty themes require great sensitivity and capturing Masters’ positivity in the face of adversity is a huge challenge. However, Rob Lutes pulls it off in some style. Lines like: “Wandering around, and I’m so heavy on the ground // But one day I’m gonna break these bonds and fly,” are full of hope and optimism and we are swept along by the upbeat, foot-tapping rhythm and positive melody. Solon McDade’s warm bass and Annabelle Chvostek’s backing vocals are very effective. However, the two highlights of this song are Lutes’ characterful voice and his outstanding, tuneful finger-picking guitar.
The single is taken from ‘Come Around’, the new album from the Canadian singer-songwriter. Begin here, then explore the rest of the new songs. Enjoy.