Signposts: Music of Hope

by Kerry Dexter /
Kerry Dexter's picture
May 20, 2019 / 0 comments

In time when politics ideas, understandings, and communications shift, it is challenging to find touchstones,signposts, if you will, to guide decisions. The sort of music we share in this series -- a series which is, after all, called music for shifting times -- can offer guidance and space for reflection. In this story, there are artists from New England, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, and Indiana.

There are threads which pull through, and ideas which resonate across the very different stories they tell.

Listen, and see what you find.

Signposts: Music of Hope

Aoife Scott is the artist in this group who comes from Ireland. In her song, Down by the Shelley Banks, she reflects on walking to a favouite place and letting her troubles go away with the outgoing tide. Though she uses specific landmarks to tell her story, it becomes a tale which reaches beyond a certain place and time to invite consideration of the healing gifts of the natural world, where ever in the world that might be. You may find the song recroded on Aoife Scott's debut album Carry the Day. At this writing, word comes that she is at work finishing up a new album.

Emily Smith and Jamie McClennan travel often in their work as musicians, and to visit family, as well. They live in Scotland, where Smith grew up; McClennan is from New Zealand. While on the road they saw an old house, and it got them thinking. McClennan wrote the song Bricks and Mortar, which you hear them sing here. Listen well, there's a lot to explore in both lyrics and music. You may find the song recorded on their album Smith and McClennan Unplugged. You may also want to give listen to Emily Smith's album called Echoes.

In carpentry, there's a device known as a plumb line. It is a cord with a weight at the end which is used to determine true vertical. It's used by painters for the same purpose. Naturally, that idea inspires people beyond the construction field. Carrie Newcomer is one such artist. In her song The Plumb Line, she considers that idea of a guiding line from several perspectives. In one verse, Newcomer, who is from Indiana, sings

I can drive and you can read the map
On the long quiet road called there and back
In every mended thing there was once a crack

And in the chorus

I didn't plan to live in these troubled times
But here I am, here I am
Holding on to the plumb line

You may find the song recorded on Newcomer's album called Point of Arrival.

Low Lily is the New England-based trio of Flynn Cohen, Liz Simmons, and Lissa Schneckenburger. They draw on Celtic and New England roots often in their music, both that which they create and that which they cover. Lissa Schneckenburger -- she's the woman on the right in this video -- got to reflecting on these shifting times, and wrote the song Hope Lingers On. Each of the three members of Low Lily is a well accomplished instrumentalist as well as a singer. As you'll see here, though, they create just as powerfully using only voices and handclaps. You may find the song recorded on Low Lily's album 10,000 Days Like These

There is a line of thought and reflection running through these songs which connects the work of these different artists.

Take some time with this music. You'll be well rewarded by considering these songs, and other music these artists create, as well. 


Thank you for staying with us through this journey. Below, you'll find a link that will take you to an article which has a bit more backstory on the series. It also has links to a number of the stories, including ones called Listening for Community, Music for Winter's Changes, and The Geography of Hope.

Music for Shifting Times

Music for Shifting Times



Kerry Dexter is Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com.

You may find more of Kerry's work in National Geographic Traveler, Strings, Perceptive Travel, Journey to Scotland, Irish Fireside, and other places, as well as at her own site, Music Road.