I came upon this compilation after watching a Bill Moyers special on PBS about the documentary "Body of War." I haven't had a chance to see the film yet, but from the clips I saw on television it looks to be a sensitive and politically conscious look at some of the human costs of the Iraq War.
Tomas Young, the protagonist of that documentary, assembled this compilation album and he's done an amazing job. The term "protest song" has a pejorative ring these days, especially among people who forget that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was a kind of protest song in its day. These are songs that speak to our time, and to the profound agony into which this senseless war has hurled our country, but that doesn't make them any less powerful, beautiful, or affecting as songs. As long as war, hypocrisy, and the abuse of power remain a part of human life the themes addressed in these songs will remain timeless. And as long as soldiers keep coming back from Iraq in wheelchairs and body bags, as long innocent Iraqi civilians lose their lives by the thousands, the wounds that these songs yearn to soothe will remain open and raw.
The music spans a range of genres, styles, and moods, from the lilting melancholy of Brendan James's opening track "Hero's Song" to the pounding rage of Fields of Agony's "No Use for a Name" to the edgy, lyrical irony of David Ford's "State of the Union." Legends like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits share billing with relative newcomers. Nobody (with the possible exception of Young himself) is likely to love every single song in a collection as eclectic as this, but there's really something for everyone, and I guarantee that you'll find at least one track here that you've never heard before, but that speaks to you as strongly as anything else in contemporary music. Highest Recommendation.