Without trying to sound overly dramatic, Refugee might just be one of the most important albums that we have been presented with this year. Released through Brainfog Records the album is a compilation from 15 of contemporary folks biggest and most prestigious names as they release some of their rarer or unreleased works to support the migrant crisis.
The album was born with a very important goal in mind – to bring the migrant crisis further into the worlds spotlight and to raise money for the Migrant Offshore Aid Station which is a charity organisation that aims to provide help to migrants who are fleeing war-torn countries in search of safety. The project was born from the mind of one man – Robin Adams – who was so moved by the refugee crisis in Syria that he wrote a song and put it out into the world in the name of charity. Things snowballed quickly and the project promptly gathered momentum until the current album came into existence. Thanks to this project you now have the chance to listen to previously unreleased tracks from the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy and BMX Bandits, all while knowing the money you paid for it has gone to a worthy cause.
As a folk and roots website there is something fairly poetic in knowing that folk has never given up the goal of bringing the plights of the world into the spotlight. Considering that the genre was practically born from people taking the chance to sing plights of war and politics and make the world listen there is a wonderful element to knowing that this has never stopped and still carries within it as much power as it ever did.
The reasons behind the project aside however, Refugee is a marvellous musical triumph. It meanders between jubilance and poignancy as can be expected of such an album and it brings together some of the most harmonious and stunning vocal and musical stylings the world has to offer. The album is composed carefully with a dextrous craftsmanship that means that each song compliments its predecessor perfectly. The likes of the touching voice of Piers Faccini is immediately followed by the smooth, soothing and soulful voice of Jenny Lysander in a truly unforgettable pair of songs. Their passionate, soulful voices penetrate you to the core with a couple of the most tender and charming melodies on the album. But like these two, the rest of the songs are carefully paired with their partners to create a mental journey.
A rich collection of songs build the album up, bringing everything to life from guitars, drums and bass to violins, organs and penny whistles. There is a vast variety of music on offer with slower, almost country-styled songs like All Aboard by Felicity Hughes contrasted against smooth and Celtic stylings from the likes of Mike and Solveig. There are even more contemporary rockier medleys from the likes of Ricky Ross. The album itself feels like a winding road; a story that is unfolding before your very eyes with each step slightly altering the path you are taking. This is a charming and wonderful element but it also shares a slightly darker and more thought-provoking and humbling element to it. Listening to this we might not know precisely where the album will be treading next but in the life of a refugee it is unknown where they themselves will be treading next.
Refugee is a truly stunning album born from the kindness and concern of one man who was affected by the state of the world today. With a top class collection of performers at his back this album was never going to falter but the work and effort that has been put into it has crafted an album that is so perfect in its own right but has also provided something of vital importance to the world. This album should adorn every shelf in every home without question.
Order the album via iTunes
Review by Joe Knipe