Jon Brooks’ “Delicate Cages” is an incredible piece of conceptual art set to music

By ‘Rebel’ Rod Ames, From Under the Basement 

This past late spring, just prior to the 40th Annual Kerrville Folk Festival, I had the distinct pleasure of not only hearing the winner of the 2010 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk contest, but actually had the privilege to meet him at my friend’s place, Lazy Days Canteen in Ingram, Texas. He turned out to be just as genuine a human being as is his music. 

His latest album, “Delicate Cages” is just about as good as it gets. Mr. Brooks has one of the most dynamic voices in the music business, let alone the folk music business, I have ever heard. His lyrics are a no holds barred punch to the groin of politics in the world, but for the most part, are directed at his native Canada. 

I miss the protest music of the 70’s. Hell, they had a significant role in the ending of a dreadful war in Asia! The craft of writing and performing a meaningful protest song has to me, up until now, been thought of as a lost art. Mr. Brooks brings that much needed emotion into his craft, reviving this apparently, not so lost art. As Mr. Brooks puts it, “Until love and compassion enters all levels of politics, the folk singer remains fully employed.” 

Employed he will stay, Mr. Brooks goes on to say, “I’m not interested in writing ‘happy songs’ – I’ve chosen to write healing songs and for that reason, I’m obliged to reveal a wound or two now and then. That said, I’m less interested in writing ‘unhappy songs’: I want to write hopeful songs, inspiring songs and I expect I owe today’s listener some compelling argument as to why we should believe our present world can be improved, or healed. A song’s highest aim is to invoke empathy – to offer that rare sight of ourselves in others. In this sense, the songwriter is simply trying to ‘politicize love’, hence my contention: today’s songwriter should be a lobbyist for compassion to be our principle representative in government office.” 

When I saw him on that perfect evening at Lazy Days Canteen, he played a tune about how the prejudice against English speaking people in Quebec brought him to a juncture in his life that eventually led him to meet his true love. Something beautiful emerged from a dark and bigoted time in the history of his native land. 

The song was “Hudson Girl”. It is track four on “Delicate Cages” and is in dark contrast to the next track, “Cage Fighter”, which also happens to be what I would call my favorite tune on the record. It’s a deep, thought provoking tune about, not just a lost love, but a lost soul. 

His music is in reality, collections of what the performer has gone through during another life while traveling throughout war torn Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1997. 

Jon was unable write songs or perform them for awhile, eight years actually. However, inspired by the atrocities he witnessed – atrocities most of us only hear about on the evening news, the artist was eventually able to put these events to music, and through it all came this wonderful conceptual piece of art set to music 

It is about releasing ourselves from the bondage or “cages” we sometimes place ourselves in. Mr. Brooks brings the events he has experienced in his life and paints stark pictures in his songs. However, he doesn’t leave us with feelings of despair, but with hope that these songs just might be able to wake some of us up enough to yearn for the desire to change the world a bit. 

Write on Mr. Brooks, Write on! Pun is intended! 

“Delicate Cages” is available now. It launched itself easily on to my top 10 of the year, maybe even the top 5. Literally, everyone should hear this amazing album. 

‘Rebel’ Rod says to check it out! 

November, 2011