You've Never Seen Everything

You've Never Seen Everything

5.0 3
by Bruce Cockburn
     
 

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It's been four years since Bruce Cockburn last released a collection of new tunes -- a period so packed with shattering and significant events that one would expect the relentlessly topical Canadian to come out with both barrels blazing. However, while You've Never Seen Everything certainly doesn't gloss over Cockburn's angst over the state of things, it's aSee more details below

Overview

It's been four years since Bruce Cockburn last released a collection of new tunes -- a period so packed with shattering and significant events that one would expect the relentlessly topical Canadian to come out with both barrels blazing. However, while You've Never Seen Everything certainly doesn't gloss over Cockburn's angst over the state of things, it's a surprisingly gentle disc, one that's more suited to solitary musing than marching, charging feet. The title track, which seethes with bystander's helplessness, offers a litany of small tragedies that might otherwise be overlooked. Not that Cockburn is forgetting about the larger picture: The brooding "All Our Dark Tomorrows" makes that clear from its opening stanza, which sneers at a scene in which "the village idiot takes the throne." Similarly, "Trickle Down" skewers CEO culture and its "peckerhead greed" with jagged swipes of voice and guitar. He's equally compelling, however, when he pries his eyes from the headlines to focus on the little things in everyday life. "Don't Forget About Delight," a wisp of a tune, puts a clever spin on the "stop and smell the roses" adage and escapes cliché thanks to Cockburn's playfully literate staging. Guests such as Sam Phillips (who adds a lilting vocal counterpoint to the gruff "Tried and Tested"), Sarah Harmer, and Emmylou Harris balance Cockburn's cloudiness with just the right touch of silver lining.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
It feels weird to be writing that Bruce Cockburn has just issued his 27th album, but that's what You've Never Seen Everything is. It's been a quite a ride since 1970; the changes lyrically and musically have been enormous, and the world view of the artist -- politically, spiritually, and psychologically -- has evolved consciously and extensively. Of his many gifts, two of his most developed are his journalistic eye for detail, and having one ear always to the ground. This time out, the view is sharply contrasting from one song to the next. Politically, this is Cockburn's angriest record since World of Wonders or Stealing Fire. A listen to the hypnotic vibe of "All Our Dark Tomorrows," with its spooky, Malian/Ali Farka Toure guitar vibe, points directly at the root of all human evil: greed. "Trickle Down," an over-the-top jazz tune with Brazilian percussion and fine solos by Cockburn and pianist Andy Milne, reveals that by peeling away layer after layer, there are people who actually get paid to keep greed accumulating. But for Cockburn, righteous anger and indignant rage are never the whole picture. "Put It in Your Heart" is about the fierceness of love in the face of fear, both individual and collective, while "Don't Forget About Delight," with its floating violin (Hugh Marsh) and harmonica (Gregoire Maret) lines entwining across the plaintive mix, is an exhortation to keep seeing the beauty with the inner eye despite the outward conditions and single-mindedness in this pursuit. Sarah Harmer, Sam Phillips, Emmylou Harris, and Jackson Browne also help out on the vocal chores, and Cockburn borrowed Tom Waits' rhythm section of Larry Taylor and Stephen Hodges for balancing the wild musical ride this album is texturally and compositionally. The title track is among the most forward-thinking and sonically adventurous tracks he's ever recorded. Hand percussion and drum loops are interlaced with minimal piano and harmonica riffs shimmering on the fringes; the long, spoken (maybe even preachy) word travelog, full of horrific images and expressionistic electronica, gives way to a sung refrain that transcends the lyric but leaves the listener unsettled. "Postcards From Cambodia" is another one, full of detailed explications of conditions caused by other conditions that have come before, and on the refrain he concedes: "This is too big for anger, too big for blame/We stumble through history, so humanly lame/So I bow down my head and say a prayer for us all/That we don't fear the spirit when it comes to call." Ultimately, this is the hinge track on the album, because Cockburn, despite the barely concealed fury that is contained within him, sees only a spiritual -- and no, not necessarily "Christian" -- solution to all of it, from the injustices to the anger and hatred he feels in his own heart for the perpetrators. Cockburn seems to be saying -- and this is only this writer's interpretation of a very complex, wondrously intricate, and musically adventurous work -- not to hate those whose actions cause suffering, but to root out the hatred in our own hearts so as not to become them. Action must come from compassion, not merely from anger, or it becomes nothing more than a mirror image of the cause of suffering itself. It is pointless to place this record in a pecking order with Cockburn's other work; that it adds to that body of work immeasurably is compliment enough. However, to say that it is necessary because it can cause self- and world-examination in any listener who plays it through is as high a compliment as can be offered.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/10/2003
Label:
Rounder / Umgd
UPC:
0011661322226
catalogNumber:
613222

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bruce Cockburn   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Dobro,Electric Guitar,Voices,12-string Guitar,Guitar (Baritone)
Emmylou Harris   Vocal Harmony
Jackson Browne   Harmony
Hugh Marsh   Violin,Keyboards
Larry Taylor   Upright Bass
Ben Riley   Drums
Greg Calbi   Percussion
Gary Craig   Percussion,Drums
John Dymond   Bass
Stephen Hodges   Percussion,Drums,Marimbas
Colin Linden   Bass,Mandolin
Andy Milne   Piano
Jonell Mosser   Vocal Harmony
Sam Phillips   Vocal Harmony
John Whynot   Human Whistle
Richard Brown   Bass
Sarah Harmer   Harmony
Steve Lucas   Bass
Maury LaFoy   Vocal Harmony
Graham Powell   Vocal Harmony
Grégoire Maret   Harmonica

Technical Credits

Bruce Cockburn   Producer
Hugh Marsh   Loop
Greg Calbi   Mastering
Colin Linden   Producer,Engineer
John Whynot   Engineer
Michael Wrycraft   Art Direction,Digital Illustration
Man Called Wrycraft   Art Direction,Digital Illustration
Frogs of Zambia   Contributor

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