Taking the troubadour’s road out of Edmonton, Alberta, Scott Cook has happily scratched a living as a singer-songwriter, wherever that road has taken him. In the spirit of many radical singers and poets who went before, he’s looking for signs that there is a life possible that is not completely beholden to business values. This fourth album from him, another “love letter to the world” as he calls it, refrains from offering definitive solutions to the problems of the world because he understands there’s no such thing as a certain prescription. Instead, he makes a plea for a gentler world where people are more connected to each other and a humble awareness of our tiny place in the great scheme of things makes us less aggressive and less avaricious.
This philosophy is delivered in gentle, laid-back tones in songs that are neatly structured. He mentions in his extensive liner notes that he’s always trying to write a simpler song – “it isn’t easy” – but his songs do actually have an easy flow to them. Picking guitar and banjo himself, a whole bunch of friends fill out the sound with extra guitar, dobro, piano, double bass and drums, as the mood demands. Those liner notes I mentioned amount to an essay as he ropes in the likes of Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz to his discourse on the search for a new society. Taking a radical approach to property rights, he marks his songs with the “copyleft” symbol, inviting the world to embrace his songs as our own and even marking the chords on the lyric sheet to help us do just that. Well, I daresay the commercial and governmental juggernauts will continue on their merry way, but protest – speaking with a true voice – is always worthwhile, and who knows what might grow from small seeds? Scott Cook sounds like the kindly voice of protest as he joins forces with those seeking a new way.
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