Various Artists – The Long Road (British Red Cross, 2016)
With proceeds going to the British Red Cross UK Refugee Support Service and with help from the Arts Council England, producer Ethan Johns, engineer Dom Monks and executive producer James Gaster, The Long Road is musical eye-opener to the present refugee and asylum seeker across the globe.
Singer, former Led Zeppelin front man and The Long Road contributor, Robert Plant says, “We have a worldwide international catastrophe – talking about it is one thing, doing something about it is another. The position we are in, it’s paramount we all do our best one way or another to help.”
With just five short tracks, most of the artists compiled for The Long Road have skin in the game from the desert blues group Tinariwen and their founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib at one time a child refugee himself to the Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars who made it a practice to support refugees during the civil war in Sierra Leone to artist and producer Adam Bainbridge who once worked as a Red Cross refugee services volunteer.
As a refugee or a witness to the hardship and devastation refugees and asylum seekers face or simply a person of conscience, The Long Road is all about lending a helping hand through music.
Producer Ethan John says of the project, “I wanted to get involved because I thought this was a story worth telling. This is a very special opportunity to create an album with a narrative that helps more people understand the realities of being a refugee and the journeys that people go through.”
Opening the familiar strains of the desert blues, Tinariwen takes on “Ker Algahalam Mas Tasossam” or “Why Is the World Silent?”
The Long Road turns spare and poetically potent with “Who Are You?” with the beat poet Scroobius Pip and the soulful vocals of Congolese Didier Kisala.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars ramps up the goodness with the brightly reggae tinged “World Peace,” before giving way to the darkly delicious “The Blanket of Night” offered up by Robert Plant.
Kindness closes The Long Road with the story of a Syrian refugee Ayman on “A Retelling.”
We so rarely get the opportunity to be force of change by listening, but The Long Road gives music fans just that opportunity and it would be silly not to take the chance of positive change.
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