Music Review

Moor Mother – The Great Bailout (Anti- Records)

todayMarch 7, 2024 26

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By – Kristi Houk

Recommended if you Like: 700 Bliss, Kae Tempest, Elucid, Billy Woods, Late Miles Davis

This is not easy listening, It will make you uncomfortable particularly if you are white. It is past time that we ( as white people) feel discomfort. It is time to shut up and listen. All good art should make the viewer/listener squirm. 

Philadelphia based songwriter and poet, Camae Ayewa known by her stage name, Moor Mother, has created a terrifyingly, intense album The Great Bailout that features guest artists like Birmingham native and artist, Lonnie Holley Mary Lattimore, Angel Bat David and more. Ayewa is an activist, a poet, a jazz head, an historian and philosopher. She has been called the “poet laureate of the apocalypse” by Pitchfork and with one listen to The Great Bailout, her 9th release, it’s easy to see why.

Ayewa lifts the veil or rather rips it off to show what REALLY happened and the trauma that her ancestors felt and still feel There is no whitewashing of history here.Through spoken word poetry and a minimalist jazz and industrial infused landscape, this is a record about the history and lasting effects of British colonialism. “Displacement and its effects are not discussed enough,” Moor Mother said in press materials. She has done her research. Her ancestors lived it. Scratch that – still living it.

The album opener, “Guilty” features Lonnie Holley’s haunting vocals and morose violin – a mourning, like waiting for an innocent man or woman being taken to the gallows. Musically, it’s atmospheric, like a grey day reflecting on injustice and feeling helpless, repeating the mantra –

There is an echo, a wash of cries, “For so long we’ve been pleading. With the same hands”

“We wiped away our blood, sweat, and tears. Through a layered vocal as piercing as a dagger, Ayewa chants:

“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. Taxpayers of erasure /guilty of amnesia. Did you pay off the trauma?” 

The listener knows the answer. Ayewa reminds us. 

On the trippy, “God Save the Queen,” the vocal reminds me of Billie Holiday a true queen backed by late Miles Davis work; scattered and fragmented, however, the queen Ayewa is speaking of on this tune is Queen Victoria. “Let her word be spread about the land, beyond what the eyes can stand. Let freedom ring.” What freedom? No freedom for “the animal without heart; Oh God, Oh God save the queen, because who else life has value?” 

This album is a prayer, a cry for help. Save our souls. 

The Great Bailout should be required listening and studied in schools. Get schooled. Surrender.

Stand Out Tracks: “Guilty,” “God Save the Queen,” “Death by Longitude”

Written by: kristi houk

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