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World Music CD Reviews North American

Northern Cree

By Rob Weir
Published April 24, 2007

Stay Red

Today’s recording industry is so focused on the performer-as-star that we sometimes forget that part of the magic of music is it’s ability to build community. Stay Red: Pow-Wow Songs Recorded Live At Pullman reminds us that raising voices collectively channels power and pride in ways that passive listening cannot. Art? Yes, but this is music that snags participants on the web of memory rather than hooking them with catchy melodies. The drum is more than the pulse for dancing; it is the heartbeat of Cree identity. The percussive thumps unleash primal yawps and keening that make time flow in a continuous stream instead of the disconnected droplets that mark so much of contemporary life. No headliners here—not even the fancy dancers. Simply a sparse drum-and-voice album that is about celebration, not celebrity.