Edge of America(Makoche, 2004)
Ojibwe singer-songwriter Annie Humphrey sings embraces global awareness on her new release, Edge of America. Similar to Canadian Cree songwriter Sandy Scofield, Annie Humphrey portrays a lot of gumption. Both musicians speak of social injustice while penning intelligent poetic lyrics. Humphrey alternates between love songs that match the sensuality found in Native American musician Robert Mirabal‘s
repertoire and social anthems laced with despair, hope and planetary healing.
Her songs fall into several genres including ambient folk-country, blues and light rock.
The electric blues guitar compliments of Jon Nyborg adds a biting quality to Humphrey’s soft, yet passionate vocals. You will also find plenty of piano, bass, percussion and guest musicians on this album including the prolific Native American spoken word artist/actor John Trudell and Jim Boyd who shares vocal duties on his song, I’ll Be There.
Annie comes from the contemporary side of Native American music and though she sings of reservation life, her music is absent of traditional drums, flutes and chants. She has garnered several NAMMY
awards and judging from the quality of her new album, I am sure she will win several more awards over the years. Yet, I seriously doubt Humphrey thinks of awards while she composes her compassionate songs, many of which come from her own experiences.
She was born and raised on an Ojibwe Indian reservation in Northern Minnesota and left to join the US Marine Corps. She traveled coast to coast then eventually landed in Japan. She returned to her homeland and has used her many talents to support causes that captured her attention.
Her socially-aware lyrics tell stories about incarceration (Doin’ Time), environmental concerns (Justice Hunters), domestic violence (Storm) and the atrocities of war seen through a mother’s eyes (Nightmares And The American Dream). And by the way, Annie is the mother of two children herself. She covers Jackson Brown’s Rock Me On The Water and features several writers’ lyrics and poetry on the CD including Trudell, James Starkey, Anne M. Dunn and poet Sandy Lulay.
The titular song, penned by Trudell speaks of an America that has fallen apart, but “somewhere in the heart of America we can take back our lives.”
I find Edge of America to be an enjoyable album with an array of musical textures and loads of poetic justice. I admire compassionate women who walk their talk and share their life stories in an empowering manner. Humphrey sings of strong women and a society that can be restored. She is a powerful woman in her own right and I respect that. It’s a pleasure to end this whirlwind year and
begin a new one listening to Annie’s words of wisdom.