Some music fits neatly into custom built, generic boxes and there is nothing wrong with that. But fad and fashions come and go, tastes change, music moves on and I find the music which survives, which continues to be relevant, which may even one day be regarded as classic is that which seems to be unconcerned by generic demarcations. After all, life doesn’t come packaged in different emotional compartments , it is at once sad yet positive, energetic and poignant, loud but meaningful and everything in-between, all at the same time. So should our music be.
Aaron English is a perfect example of this idea and Songs From Somewhere Else is a genre-blurring reflection of his many travels, influenced by the various sounds and styles of the countries he has move through, the cultures he has encountered and the people he has met. There is often an Afrobeat pulsing at the heart of his music, Born Under The Same Sun being a brilliant clash of continents, western pop meets intricate and exotic African guitar sounds and then songs such as Afande (Policemen) walking even further down that musical path.
And somewhere between these cultural interplays he finds his own unique voice, Peace Be Upon You is a gorgeous and emotive mix of beats and beatific bliss and Wild At Heart a soulful and sumptuous ballad. It is a voice that echoes with some classic sounds. There is something of Neil Diamond in his vocal, of Peter Gabriel in his cross-cultural weaves perhaps but the soaring, wide-screen energy of Coming of Age in Hard Times and the brooding, classical beauty of Praying For Time mark English out as a unique and brilliantly creative songwriter.
The term “word music” often gets criticised as being too vague, too specific, even too pretentious…but maybe world music is simply the musical voice of people like Aaron English, people who have wandered the globe’s highways and back roads encountering, absorbing, evolving and cross-pollinating everything he encounters in his journey. Maybe, by that definition, everything is world music, it’s just that some is more worldly that others.