Review: Buffy Sainte-Marie hits hard with 'Power in the Blood'

Buffy Saint-Marie is touring in support of her new release Power In The Blood. Photo from Facebook

A favorable review (8 out of 10 stars) of Power In The Blood, the latest from the the legendary activist and musician Buffy Sainte-Marie:
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s first new release in six years, Power in the Blood, defies simple categorization. The songs come in a variety of styles, from old time folk to modern electronica, and combine rock, blues, country, and jazz tropes into a rousing expression of intelligence and sensitivity. Sainte-Marie takes the world personally and demands attention be paid to her concerns. While her musical influences come from all over the place, she filters them through her creativity to express deep thoughts and feelings. What’s more, she’s fun! Romantic music becomes more than simple songs of passion, and even serious songs on important topics have a sense of play to them.

Consider the powerful diatribe “The Uranium War”, the story of a Native American activist hunted because of her revelations about Uranium on Indian land. The concerns about corporate greed and government corruption are serious, but she sings the chorus in Cree and then croons “Keep the Indians under your thumb / pray like hell when your bad times come / Hey rip em up Strip em up Get em with a gun” as if she’s reciting a nursery rhyme. The lightheartedness of the tune amplifies the wickedness of the situation. When confronted by evil, laughter is the best medicine.

And there is the sultry “Ke Sakihitin Awasis (I Love You, Baby)”. The combination of Native American and English lyrics and the mix of quiet guitar strumming with thumping percussion suggests the pleasures of physical love among two people. The song transforms the love of one into the love of many as the lyrics flow into myth and history. If one can love another, one can love many. The lesson is the same. We should love each other all the way. While she sings specifically about an indigenous tribe, she leaves it undefined to represent all the different peoples; or more simply, all people.

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Review by Steven Horowitz: Power in the Blood (Pop Matters 6/23)

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