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Sultans of String — Walking Through the Fire
((Not on label) no#, 2023, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2024-04-13

Walking Through the Fire Cover art

I’m not Canadian, but I live in Seattle and watch a lot of Canadian TV. One of the things I enjoy about CBC programming is the amount of time they devote to First Nations artists. I’ve discovered many interesting musicians through their programming, and am fascinated by their coverage of First Nations issues. I know they’re far from perfect, but they’re much more attentive than TV in the US. On this new Sultans of String album, the group has brought in a variety of collaborators from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. These range from the country-rock of Crystal Shawanda on “The Rez” to the folk-rock of Leela Gilday and Leanne Taneton on “Kǫ́” to the more mainstream country of The North Sound on “Sweet Alberta” to the katajjaq (traditional Inuit throat singing) of Kendra Tagoona and Tracy Sarazin on “Humma” to the distinctive fiddle techniques of the Métis Fiddler Quartet on “Tkaronto Reel.” Of the tracks with English lyrics, several touch on historical, social, and political issues such as the abuses of the residential school system, discrimination, and environmental damage, but there are also moments of hope and pride to be found. Other songs have lyrics in French and a variety of other languages, and there are spoken word passages as well. These seem to be true collaborations, with equal input from the Sultans of String and their guests on each track, and it’s all superbly produced, with a powerful sound and punchy arrangements. In spite of the serious subject matter of many of the songs, there’s a sense of joy to the music that should appeal to many listeners, and maybe serve as a gateway to investigating the work of the collaborators as well.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Sultans of String

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