All our songwriting heroes have aged. Bruce Cockburn like the rest. When I heard that he was releasing a new record I was cautious. Could it reach Cockburn standards?
I took that attitude into a first listening and was thinking that it was not obviously as good as Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaw or Humans but the guitar playing was great, the arrangements were great, the melodies have ear candy within, the lyrics were depth charges and even Bruce’s voice sounded more than ok. On Into The Now there’s even a slight Kristofferson rasp.
So, a second listen and I was asking myself why I was being so defensive. O Sun O Moon is an absolutely fabulous record. At the moment it is up there with those two already mentioned albums as one of my all time Cockburn favourites.
He tells us from the off (On A Roll):
Time takes its toll
But in my soul
I’m on a roll
Boy he is. Next up is some Biblical exegesis for authentic Jesus’ discipleship (Orders):
The one who lets his demons win
The one we think we’re better than
A challenge great - as I recall
Our orders said to love them all
Preach it brother. Then on Us All he prays for us:
I pray we not fear to love
I pray we be free of judgement and shame
Open the vein, let kindness rain
O’er us all
Don’t forget Bruce has that prophetic side. On To Keep The World We Know he is fighting for planet earth:
Waters rise, grassland dries
Mother Earth, she weeps
Willful ignorance and greed
Prevail while reason sleeps
It is Cockburn doing what he does but the arrangements, the playing. Kristofferson echoes are back on When the Spirit Walks In The Room with its stunning “You’re a thread upon the loom/When the Spirit Walks In The Room”.
Cockburn is certainly gazing for the in coming stage. Nowhere more so than on the spoke word title track:
O sun by day o moon by night
Light my way so I get this right
And if that sun and moon don’t shine
Heaven guide these feet of mine
It all closes with When You Arrive:
And the dead shall sing
To the living and the semi-alive
Bells will ring when you arrive
O Sun O Moon is a most mature work of introspective spiritual adventure taking all of Cockburn’s strengths and blending them in the most potent gentleness. It’s a gift. It is beyond expectation. It is up there with his very best!