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Bruce Cockburn: Life Short Call Now

CD Review

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Bruce Cockburn's latest release, Life Short Call Now, was released last July and is his 29th release over his 35-year career. On Life Short, he continues to show why he is a respected musical activist--writing songs of social and political significance.

Cockburn's love of music shows through his songs of contemporary commentary. If you think nobody includes instrumentals on their releases any more, think again. Three of the 12 songs on this CD are instrumentals and his use of strings, horns, and other elements reveals his interest in musical composition on both the instrumentals as well as the other tunes.

But, it's his political commentary that many people remember him for. "Tell the Universe" is just one of the songs where he bashes George W. Bush. On "This is Baghdad," he repeats the title phrase as a chorus using the repetition to give us some sense of what the soldiers there face every day after. It's not all political. "Beautiful Creatures" features a vocal urgency that borders on whiny. The CD's high point, however, is the slow and compelling "Mystery." With background vocals by Ron Sexsmith and Hawksley Workman, it's a musical tapestry of horns and strings, thought-provoking lyrics and a piano solo to close it out. It's my favorite on this CD and though that song alone is enough to make me see why people like Bruce Cockburn. I just can't say I love him.