Album Review: Power in the Blood by Buffy Sainte-Marie
Excellent, Based on 5 Critics
Exclaim - 90 Based on rating 9/10
Apparently nobody told Buffy Sainte-Marie to slow down when she hit her eighth decade on this earth. But, even if they did, who'd expect her to listen? At 74 years old, this perennially underrated artist sounds as vital and as urgent as ever on this, her 18th record. In fact, Power In The Blood might just be the best album she's made since the late 1960s.
Buffy Sainte-Marie’s first new release in six years, Power in the Blood, defies simple categorization. The songs come in a variety of styles, from old time folk to modern electronica, and combine rock, blues, country, and jazz tropes into a rousing expression of intelligence and sensitivity. Sainte-Marie takes the world personally and demands attention be paid to her concerns.
Beverley ‘Buffy’ Saint-Marie, from Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, is a remarkable artist. Her latest album, the first since 2008’s Running For The Drum, is densely packed with righteous activism, but who’d have thought she’d cover the Alabama 3’s Power In The Blood and retain its techno thrust? Still, she’s never shied away from political intent, and brings fresh venom to a slew of anti-war, anti-nuclear tracks that go straight for the jugular. Words spew out, melodies rotate and a spell is cast, especially during the Cree chanting We Are Circling.
If Buffy Sainte-Marie has a trademark as an artist it's that she doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks. Since 1964, she has fought to make the records she wants and has seldom allowed the vision of her producers or record labels to sway her intentions. She doesn't fit the mold of a "folksinger" as a septuagenarian any better than she did 50 years ago.
The first half of 2015 was a slightly strange moment for country, especially chart country, because it mostly made for some serious waiting. Though there have been significant releases, the biggest names will either return later in the year, or remain sleeping off their collective residual hangover ….