Sara Marlowe,
Times Like These
(World to Win, 2004)

Sara Marlowe has been likened to Ani diFranco, Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell. She writes socially aware songs, protesting against war, poverty, hunger and political corruption and -- high and clear -- her voice sings her words to the world.

You can be lulled into skimming the lyrics in favour of the funk/folk/jazz flavour of the music in general, but time and again her vocals pitch into your consciousness with some telling phrase. She prints the words on the cover sleeve, and it is sobering reading -- every word valid, the message, over and over, is anti-war, highlighting the horrors of children enmeshed in battle, dying so young, whether with a gun in their hand or only because they were "born in the wrong place, the wrong time, ... the wrong skin.". Her anti-war message highlights the grinding of the political machinery, which creates its own noise to drown out the protests of the people, highlights the rare beauty of a starlit night where nobody has to hide from bombs and bullets.

Whether your political views coincide or collide with Marlowe's, she presents her arguments lyrically, coherently and intelligently. Her voice is in the same upper register as Joni Mitchell or Kate Bush, and I prefer to hear a more mellow alto tone; however, this is not really music to listen to with half an ear or fill in the background. Marlowe is in the forefront of protest, and though her voice is undoubtedly heard more in North America than in Europe, she addresses global issues and should be required listening for any modern studies syllabus. Music's power is not necessarily merely measured by volume.

- Rambles
written by Jenny Ivor
published 28 August 2004

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