09 March 2006

Children of the Revolution: Life, Love, (and Guantanamo Bay) - (CD Review)

Since their eponymous debut album in 1999, Seattle's Children of the Revolution have pursued their musical dreams with unflagging energy. The fruits of these labors include six albums and a reputation, honed through worldwide touring, as a great live band. Putumayo, who included a COTR track on their compilation Greece: A Musical Odyssey, says they "represent the future of popular music." Not that their recipe of a multicultural band borrowing from different ethnic traditions is entirely unique (think Pink Martini, Mynta, Balkan Beat Box, Tabla Beat Science, Lo'Jo, or Bayuba Cante, just to name a few).

But these are rare success stories amid the ruins of failed musical experiments. And you well might wonder what keeps the wheels on the cart if you look at everything it's being asked to carry: lyrics in English, Spanish, Greek, and a little French and Arabic; styles ranging from fiery Afro-Cuban to folk-pop ballads to political ska to violin/scat jazz; and along with 11 group members, guest artists including Reggie Watts, Ann Wilson, Yva Las Vegass, and Gina Sala.

So what holds it together? Eric Jaeger's guitar energy. Vassili's songwriting, singing, and strut. More than anything, a keen sense of storytelling. Hanging with COTR, you not only get great music, but also compelling tales of love ("Isla Margarita," "Liberation"), loss ("Keep Holding On," "Broken Pieces"), the ticking of time ("Depression Era Kid," "Jonathan"), living with HIV/AIDS ("Chapter One"), human rights ("Guantanamo Bay"), and life cut short ("Angeles de Bolivia"). By no stretch of imagination could this all be called "world music," yet it's deeply felt music telling powerful human stories rooted in the band's diverse experiences.

Band site | Buy CD | Hear samples
Post a Comment