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Wednesday 29 May 2024

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O Sun O Moon – Bruce Cockburn.

May 9, 2023

For decades Bruce Cockburn has been telling it like it is and kicking over the fences,  a minstrel for honesty and decency in world too deaf or self obsessed to hear. He’s never stopped and now he has weathered features and sports a snow white beard, who’d blame him if he cut down on the crusading and was to strum guitar in easier fashion? No one….. however, that scenario just isn’t what he was cut out for. So as he approaches 80 here’s a new album stacked with as much meaning, observation and topical consideration as we’ve come to expect. Business as usual then.

Okay, if I’m to be honest he does do things in a quieter more laid back fashion with a lot less electricty and rock than image/social consience rich numbers like ‘ If a Tree Falls In The Forest,’ or ‘If I Had A Rocket Launcher ‘ did in the past but ‘To Keep The World We Know’ is up there as we all melt in the dangerous soup that global warming is creating. His keen invective hasn’t budged one iota and whilst vocally he’s rougher round the edges – which suits adding depth and character to proceedings – he’s still got lyrical bite “Bank comes down heavy when the mortgage ain’t paid/Cops come down hard on disorder,” he observes on ‘ Into The Now,’ but he’s a humanitarian as well “Here we are faced with choice/Shutters and walls or open embrace/ Like it or not the human race/ Is us all,” ‘Us All’  and “The list is long as I recall/ Our orders said to love them all,” ‘Orders.’ Yes even those who’re helpless, hopeless or just plain wrong, after all orders are orders and Bruce reckons the word’s come down from a much higher authority.

He’s supported consistently by class musicians who’re in sync and sympathy with the Cockburn philosophy and melody, guests include the divine vocals of Shawn Colvin on ‘Push Comes To Shove,’  Buddy Miller on ‘Colin Went Down To The Water’  which commemorates a friend who drowned whilst B.C. was on a family break in Hawaii and a choir of perfection bouys the jazz flecked finale ‘When You Arrive’ stacked with tongue in cheek references to advancing years. What they say about age and not withering, applies directly to yer man.

‘O Sun O Moon,’ is a satisfying, brilliant album and is much better than we had any right to think it might be. Bruce Cockburn exemplifies the phrase, you can’t keep a good man down. Long may it be so.

Simon Jones.



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