As we inch closer to the election on November 3, our country has never been more divided, riven by fear of those unlike us and by the fear of change. Protests that start peacefully too often turn quickly violent, fueled one group’s unwillingness to listen to others; or, protests light with a spark violent acts and deafening shouts drown out the screams of victims of the acts. Such displays reveal that ignorance, willing or not, fuels fear, which sparks hatred. The chains of ignorance and fear wind themselves so tightly that the tendrils of love can barely wind their way into the chain’s links, closing off any chance for conversation or the search for the common humanity that links us.
Moira Smiley’s airy and delicate “Days of War” opens with the chanting of a crowd and slides into Smiley’s gently plucked circling banjo that weaves under and around Seamus Egan’s circling guitar lines. “Days of War” cleverly records the conversation between a human, who asks why we can’t all get along and if there is any hope we ever will, and a bird that can see for miles and miles from its vantage point that indeed love can conquer fear: “I sing to know that love is near because anger holds the hand of fear/I sing to know that love is near, oh courage take the hand of fear.” Sam Amidon’s and Smiley’s spiraling vocals and ethereal music fly high over a landscape littered with fear and hate, leading us to a land where love and courage, beauty and reconciliation are possible.
Commenting on “Days of War,” Smiley says the song is “Written in response to ongoing, violent displays of white supremacy across the United States, this song asks how we can go on… singing, making things, making art and truly listening to each other. Sam’s voice came into my head while singing this and developing the song. Lines like ’the news is bad and there’s no relief’ or ‘between our camps where you touch down’ felt like they called for Sam’s direct, plain-spoken weight. Sam and I have known each other for decades and grew up in the Vermont folk music scene at similar times, and we’d recently shared a song and conversation in my VT Big Singalong festival (April 2020), so I asked Sam if he’d sing ‘Days of War,’ and he said ‘absolutely’ and sent his vocal track before I even got to suggest how we split up the parts. He did exactly what I hoped he’d do…sing the ‘human’ lines so I could sing the ‘bird’ lines. Seamus added in the rhythm and solo guitar lines, we asked Vermont drummer Caleb Bronze for some beats and we were done!”
Her new album, In Our Voices (out February 2021), Smiley says, “features four extraordinary singers and my notoriety in choral and a cappella music for songs built on heavily percussive movement. Sweeter, banjo-driven songs like ‘Days of War’ are sprinkled throughout.”
(Artwork & Animatics by Eloïse Phillips @possumscribbles)
“Days of War” is available now at Bandcamp.
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