I Pledge Allegiance to Myself
Appleseed Recordings <http://www.appleseedrec.com>
Lizzie West claims to be a member in good standing and bard of The Anti-Fear Movement. Good for her! In a time when governments tell us to fear dangerous fluids, and the shadow of that mushroom cloud seems closer than its been in decades, we need all the brave, encouraging voices we can find. West is one of them.
Her striking voice warbling a re-written "America the Beautiful" anthem is the centrepiece of this fine CD. The lyrics toss up a people's challenge against the cynical-paranoid school of government, and a cheer to those who hold fast to hope. Backed by The White Buffalo band, West takes listeners through cleverly re-visioned classics including the Bob Marley/Peter Tosh "Get Up, Stand Up" and "City of New Orleans". Her originals take sometimes oblique, but nonetheless sharp, stabs at war ("19 Miles to Baghdad"), relationships ("Rope Me In and Smoke Me") and solidarity ("They Won't Bury Us Till We Die").
There's a picture of Woody Guthrie on her CD cover — interestingly set beside the image of the gently protective Hindu deity Ganesh — and one can imagine the spirit of Guthrie would smile on this strong-singing woman and her brightly aware set of songs. Like Guthrie's own songs, there's both fun and inspiration here. Smiles and a pat on the back, most needed.