Gentle reggae with a strong message



Gentle reggae with a strong message

Renaissance in Formation
Anna Fisher
Molin Music
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Review by Norm Dixon

Many musicians dabble in support for "worthy causes". Some are genuinely committed, many others do it for the marketing benefits. Few really devote themselves to an issue to the extent that it defines their music. Anna Fisher is one of those few.

Fisher uses her gentle — dare I say, "easy listening" — reggae to educate about domestic violence and offer encouragement to survivors. While her instruments — the oboe and English horn — are not those usually associated with the music made famous by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, the sentiments Fisher drives home are no less intense and sincere.

In "Break the Silence — Stop the Violence", Fisher appeals to the listener to understand the difficult situation women in violent relationships face: "The question isn't 'Why does she stay?'/ But 'How can she flee?'/ Unless you've been the victim/ Of power and control/ You may not ever sympathise/ With the ones who will not go .../ But those who leave run the greatest risk/ Of dying on the floor."

Fisher also offers advice to survivors: "If you find yourself in that same dark hole .../ Find someone to talk to/ A friend you trust/ Anyone who believes in you/ You mustn't be ashamed/ Call a crisis shelter/ Don't risk your life!"

Fisher knows something about the subject. In 1992, she fled, with her children, from a violent partner. She took a new name, fearing her husband would kill her if he discovered her whereabouts. For a time she lived in homeless shelters. To this day, Fisher does not reveal where she lives. The experience led her to devote her music to the plight of battered women.

Fisher spends a lot of time playing benefits throughout the US for groups that tackle domestic violence and violence within the community and promote women's rights. She participates in workshops to raise awareness about domestic violence, promotes music education in schools and advocates the use of music to help bring social change.

The album contains a number of instrumental tracks that highlight Fisher's versatility and reggae's universal appeal. There is also a lovely version of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" (a Spanish-language version is also available).

If you like your music on the mellower end of the spectrum, but with a message that is strong and necessary, then Fisher's album is worth a listen.