A More Perfect Union is a newly-recorded 16-song collaboration between Pete Seegerand longtime friend and fellow singer-songwriter Lorre Wyatt, on which the duo is joined by newer generations of socially conscious musicians Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, and Dar Williams, among others. (Seeger also has a second new release, Pete Remembers Woody, a two-CD spoken-word/musical tribute to Woody Guthrie.)
Seeger’s abiding mission, shared with Wyatt, is to inspire sociopolitical involvement and personal inclusiveness through song. That goal shines through the 14 songs newly co-written with Wyatt. The duo addresses recent and ongoing political, economic and environmental issues alongside gentler appreciations of life s good moments, meditations on the future, and exhortations to individual action. The opening track, God s Counting on Me…God s Counting on You puts the responsibility for battling corporate greed, the BP oil spill, and other manmade catastrophes squarely in our hands. Time to turn things around/Trickle up, not trickle down, rasps Springsteen, while Pete reminds us, What we do, you and me/Will affect eternity.
Other hot button songs include This Old Man Revisited, an ironic scorcher about the joys of war with guest vocals by a never-grittier Steve Earle and deceptively gentle Dar Williams (who also appears on the sorrowful Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Memories Out of Mud). Tom Morello, former guitar-shredder for Rage Against the Machine and now recording and performing as the far folkier Nightwatchman, chips in on vocals and acoustic lead guitar on the CD s title song, which carries multiple layers of meaning. Somos el Barco (We are the Boat ),Wyatt s best-known solo composition, adds Emmylou Harris s sweet voice to Lorre s resolute tenor. There s more to this CD than political commentary.
Among the more lighthearted songs are the delightfully self-deprecating Old Apples (…still can make good sauce ) and Howling for Our Supper, a pet s-eye view of Pete and Lorre writing another pointless ditty when it s feeding time. On the heartwarming side, there are Wonderful Friends, a different version than found on one of two of Seeger s Grammy-winning Appleseed CDs, At 89 (2008), A Toast to the Times, and the closing Bountiful River. Throughout the CD, Pete and Lorre share and split vocal duties; Pete plays banjo and acoustic 12-string guitar, while Lorre handles the six-string acoustic and additional banjo. Providing a rich, acoustic instrumental bed are co-producers David Bernz (guitar, banjo, vocals, harmonica), engineer-percussionist Jeff Haynes, and a host of musicians based near Pete s Beacon, N.Y., home. The use of a wide variety of percussion adds an atmospheric, throbbing Third World tinge to many of the songs. Seeger and Wyatt, more than 25 years his junior, have been friends for more than 40 years and have co-written dozens of songs since then. Massachusetts-based Wyatt was sidelined for much of the last 15 years recovering from a stroke but has fully recovered and is back on [his] musical feet again.