Eliza Gilkyson—2020

2020, Eliza Gilkyson/Red House/Compass Records Group


The title says it all, it’s 2020, a notable and somehow ominous number. One can imagine history books in the future beginning a chapter, “It was 2020, a time when people could see what was happening and had every means of communication available to rally around the truth….” How does an outspoken artist as accomplished and prolific as Eliza Gilkyson deal with an era of handwringing and ineffectual good intentions? For one thing, she has set aside the sharp-tongued, ironic tone of some of her previous works for one that is more spiritual, a call to hope and action. In “Promises to Keep” Gilkyson sings, “I’ve been counting on my angel choir to put some wings upon my feet./ Fill me up with inspiration’s fire and get me out into the street.” In “Peace in Our Hearts” she sings in the call and response style of Gospel music, “We’re gonna walk together arm in arm/ With peace in our hearts.” She covers “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” which reads now like prophesy, especially when you pair it with Gilkyson’s “My Heart Aches.” “We marched 50 years and countless miles/ Ignoring the signs with our own denials/ Waiting for some others to take a stand.” Other lines of this song “And hammer out justice all over this land,” and “All we were saying was give peace a chance,” remind us how important it is to have a Pete Seeger or John Lennon to focus and inspire us. One could easily imagine CSNY singing the chorus of the last track, “We Are Not Alone,” echoing “Wooden Ships” with the difference being that we are not leaving, but “…coming face to face with every fear.” It’s 2020, and we need to rise up and listen to the brave voices singing! —Michael Devlin

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