Not that I’d be the first to raise the flag on the necessity of this excellent Willie Dunn collection, but I’d be remiss not to drive you in that direction. Put together by Light in the Attic, the collection gives a definitive look at one of Canada’s folk luminaries, and an unyielding artist that refused to let fame taint the artform. Dunn was an artist who, like Woody Guthrie, Dylan, or Buffy Sainte-Marie before him, was inseparable from his politics, running as a member of the New Democratic Party in the ‘90s and upholding indigenous rights with his music and film long before. His works appeared in LITA’s long championed compilation Native North American, Vol. 1 and with this expanded set the label digs deeper into his songwriting, including album works alongside his standalone singles “School Days,” and “I Pity The Country.”
The comp opens with one of his most resounding works, the scathing indictment “The Ballad of Crowfoot,” which was written for his 1968 film of the same name. Dunn’s songwriting moves between heartfelt ‘70s folk-rock to spoken word pieces that hang in the air like frosted breath. His delivery can be as tender as Lightfoot and as leathered as Hazelwood, threaded through with indigenous tales, heartbreak, a heavy sigh and a faraway stare. His songs impart the full weight of his causes, feeling lived in rather than allowing a tourism of Native causes and Dunn dedicated his life and art to furthering the welfare of his people. This is an absolutely essential collection of the work Willie did with a full breadth of context in liners and pictures as only the LITA folks are bound to work up.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.