Arts & Leisure

Singer calls for listening in these fractured times

MOIRA SMILEY

Folk music has had that role of making sense of suffering. It tells it like it is, so we’re not the only ones feeling badly.
— Moira Smiley

Election Day is gone, but fear is not. As we wait for the unfolding of our new political landscape, we remember that no matter the outcome, the world is still gripped by COVID, racial divides and increasing unrest. It’s a pretty bleak way to enter winter.
Local singer, composer and song-collector Moira Smiley has a gift for us all with her freshly released folk single “Days of War.”
Originally written with guitarist Seamus Egan soon after the horrific events at the Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017, the song “asks how we go on… singing, making things, making art and listening to each other,” Smiley explained.
“The world has the ability to hurt us,” Smiley continued during a recent interview from her home in Bristol where she resides with Egan. “Before the lyrics came to me, I remember looking up a ginkgo tree and seeing a bird. I was amazed it was singing and, more than that, I was amazed it would continue to sing as long as there was air to breathe. I knew that I needed to do that too.”
Though the song was originally written more than three years ago, Smiley recently re-released it in a new arrangement.
“It feels like now,” Smiley said. “It became urgent for me to respond to the ongoing, violent displays of white supremacy across the United States.”
Smiley joins Brattleboro native Sam Amidon on lead vocals, with her banjo, Egan plays guitar and Caleb Bronze plays drums. Jake Asaro, Gregory Fletcher, Karla Mundy and Dawn Pemberton are the four-member chorus that bring a hauntingly rich depth to the song. 
“It’s a sweet tune that goes with bleak words,” Smiley said. “Folk music has had that role of making sense of suffering. It tells it like it is, so we’re not the only ones feeling badly.”
When I fly to the enemy
the fear is high ’cause you don’t agree
and tempers flare, yeah the cry is war
no one listens anymore
The lyrics continue:
Little bird, do you fly in fear
up and away from the hatred here?
Do you see our meeting ground
between our camps where you touch down?
“Anger gave birth to those words,” Smiley said, even though the song evokes nothing of the sort. In fact, quite the opposite. “How can we be doing this to each other? We need to find again the ideals that we talk about in this country… uniting immigrants, talking rationally together… We have to get back to that. Equality really hasn’t been shared. The rule of the government hasn’t really been shared. That’s the 2020 reckoning.”
Well I fly because I must carry on
To love
To feed
To make my home
and I sing to know that love is near
because anger holds the hand of fear
Yeah, I sing to know that love is near
Because anger holds the hand of fear
I sing to know that love is near
Oh, courage take the hand of fear!
“Days of War” was produced by Smiley and David Weber. The music video on YouTube features artwork and animatics by Eloïse Phillips (@possumscribbles) — it’s beautiful, uplifting and speaks to the moment we share now.
This single is part of Smiley’s forthcoming album “In Our Voices.” Smiley will continue releasing singles from the new album and accompanied videos through January. The full album is set to release in early 2021. Follow along and find more at moirasmiley.com.

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