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Buffy Sainte-Marie - Medicine Songs

  by Lisa Torem

published: 9 / 2 / 2018

Buffy Sainte-Marie - Medicine Songs
Label: True North Records
Format: CD


Fantastic new album from Buffy Sainte-Marie which combines both unreleased songs with new versions of old songs

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s evocative voice and admirable principals vehemently underscore ‘Medicine Songs’, the passionate folk singer’s follow-up to 2015’s ‘Power in the Blood’ — that title song, inspired by the band A3, and originally bearing a violent theme, has been toned down into an introspective peace anthem… This thirteen-track CD (the album is also available in vinyl) transverses a listener through a historical and rhythmic journey, that in equal measure, celebrates the most salient milestones of her fifty year career. She came to fame in the same Greenwich Village era that worshipped Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell — Buffy helped Mitchell secure an agent and was a big promoter of her then-originals. Written in 1961, her anti-war song, ‘Universal Soldier’ became a hit for Scottish-born Donovan — it appears on the album, thankfully, in a simple guitar-vocal format, an arrangement which gives the bittersweet lyrics free rein. One of Buffy’s goals is to educate her fans about the true history of First Nation peoples. To that end, she is truly “putting her songs to work.” ‘You Got to Run’ (‘Spirit of the Wind’) features a hypnotic duet with Tanya Tagaq — both women are Polaris Prize winners. ‘The War Racket’ yields bold statements about government racketeers — part of the appeal, here, is how Buffy’s lyrics force us to think. ‘Little Wheel Spin and Spin’ is a metaphor, too, for a universe often-wrought with chaos and an imbalance of power. Against her fingerstyle guitar, Buffy gives a command performance. It is one of her most spare but gratifying achievements, pulled lovingly together by a Zen-like drone effect. Songs such as ‘My Country Tis of Thy People You’re Dying’ and ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ were once considered too controversial for air play; all the more reason to embrace their truthfulness now, sung and narrated by a woman who has spent her life advocating for the rights of indigenous people. ‘Medicine Songs’ strikes a balance between simply-executed ballads and rip-roaring anthems. Buffy has chosen her material wisely — the mostly-original material illuminates her natural gifts as a singer, arranger, guitarist, percussionist and articulate activist. Buffy says it best: “I really want this collection of songs to be like medicine, to be of some help or encouragement, to maybe do some good.”

Track Listing:-
1 You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind)
2 The War Racket
3 Starwalker
4 My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying
5 America The Beautiful
6 Carry it On
7 Little Wheel Spin and Spin
8 No No Keshagesh
9 Soldier Blue
10 The Priests of the Golden Bull
11 Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee
12 Universal Soldier
13 Power In The Blood

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Interview (2018)
Buffy Sainte-Marie - Interview
Canadian-born songwriter/performer and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie,speaks to Lisa Torem about her new album ‘Medicine Songs’

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