Courtney Dowe - Accomplice
Contemporary singer and songwriter Courtney Dowe is reminiscent of Tracey Chapman in both sound and soul. Combining soul, blues, folk and funk sounds, her debut album Accomplice reflects on social injustice, love and struggle.
Released in May 2010 by record label Counterpoint, the album received little attention in her homeland of America, but was received well in Britain. A recent status update posted by Dowe on her Myspace page ("Courtney Dowe realizes that she is the one she has been waiting for") is reflective of the self-empowering nature of her music.
The title song of the album, "Accomplice", is a call to arms. Dowe sings "...people of the world don't be accessory to murderous violence, don't keep inhuman silence…" It encourages people to be active in the fight for peace and justice. Dowe reflects, if all we do is stand still and watch in silence, then we become an "accomplice" to the atrocities taking place around us.
Exposing the continuing racism in America, the song "A Song for Sean Bell" laments the struggle of Native Americans growing up in a place where "brown skin is criminal in your city". Based on a true event, Dowe tells the story of Sean Bell, a black man whom NYC police killed on the morning of his wedding day. The total number of shots fired neared fifty, with one police officer firing 36 times at three unarmed black men.
Dowe endeavours to tell a story in all her songs. Consequently, they continue to resonate with the listener long after they've finished. The combination of Dowe's raw vocal sound and guitar phrasing produce beautiful songs that, in their simplicity, speak the truth.
"If I had Wings" features Dowe's voice with only faint accompaniment by guitar and organ. The song explores the all-too-familiar concept of struggle. Dowe advises that sometimes all you can do for a person when they're struggling is be there for them in whatever way you can.
For a relatively unknown artist, Dowe's voice sounds experienced. Her passion for social justice is evident in her music as she sings about issues close to her heart. In an interview with the Epoch Times, Dowe said her music was "her calling".
For many, Dowe's songs have the ability to offer the "place of refuge" that Dowe herself discovered in music at a young age.
3 out of 5
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