Power In The Blood
Reviewed by: Brian Roser
This album was made by a woman in her mid 70s. Her voice is getting a bit old and she uses electronic music like she’s trying out this newfangled thing that the younguns are dancin’ to at the disco. As for the lyrics and the music… holy crap… okay, let’s back up a bit. Buffy Sainte-Marie’s newest album is a powerful, timeless addition to a lifetime of activism and defiance. Her voice may waiver in places, but her heart and soul never do. The music is folk rock, with guitar, brass, piano, and yes synthesizer. The songs also very prominently feature the sounds, cadences and language of her native Cree. One track will tell of the hold the military industrial complex has over us. With the next one, you can smell the woodsmoke and taste the roasted buffalo on your tongue as she brings her people’s music to life.
Buffy Sainte-Marie made her first album ten years before I was born, not to mention being born before my parents were. She is a chart topping singer-songwriter, activist for the Native American people and she won an Oscar for best original song. Also, she holds honorary degrees from half a dozen universities. She’s led a full and productive life. With Power In The Blood, she’s shows that she is still going strong.
Some of the references are dated. The line “weaponized pesticides” is more a reference to our fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia than the deserts of the Middle East. Most of her work, though, is timeless. The arguments she made in “Universal Soldier” are as relevant now as in 1964. She sings of the plight of the Native American, but also of love, both lost and gained. The album is part student protest, part lovesong to the Cree and part advice for the next generation. Most of all, it is awesome.