Sunday, August 31, 2008

In Review---Healing Songs from Dine-Land

Louie Gonnie
Songs from the Sacred Circle
Canyon Records

Kevin Yazzie
Canyon Records

I will admit these CDs have been patiently waiting for me to review them. While I find peyote songs relaxing, I do need to be in a certain frame of mind to listen to them. Songs of the Sacred Circle marks the third Louie Gonnie recording that has come my way. A member of the Dine Tribe of the American Southwest, Gonnie pulls his inspiration from the natural world and its healing energies.

In the past, he has shown reverance for the mountains that reside in four cardinal directions. On this CD of peyote songs of the Native American Church, Gonnie again travels deep into the Spirits of the Earth. He provides his listeners with 8 sets of peyote songs, a soldier's lament (since many Native Americans have been sent off to fight in Iraq), and a track, called Rendition, also concerned with battles.

Personally I feel sad, even broken hearted that so many youth are sent off to fight for oil and a way of life (materialism, nothing to do with liberty), that supports a few elite corporations. And this way of life is destroying the planet and that which is sacred. Perhaps these healing songs can mend the wounds the earth and its inhabitants have sustained. But if we truly want peace, then that old warrior attitude either needs to be put to rest or transmuted into healing love. And then there is the need to heal the wounds or darkness in ourselves so we don't manifest wars in the outer realm.

Kevin Yazzie introduces himself in his liner notes for Faith, "I started singing at the age of six through the Great Pow-Wow circle and the Native American Church. At the age of thirteen I grew closer to the Native American Church. The prayers and songs I learned utilized for friends and relatives..."

Pow-Wow songs with their pounding drums and passionate vocals act in contrast to the moody, even hypnotic peyote song vocals which are accompanied by a psychedelic sounding water drum and rattles. Yazzie layers harmonized vocals in his 6 sets of four harmonized songs. He ends with the title track, Faith and the entire experience last under an hour.

Similar to Gonnie, Yazzie also hails from the Dine people, also known as Navajo to the outside world. These two musicians take their tradition seriously and honor it with their heartfelt recordings. And while I do need to be in the right mood to listen to peyote songs, in the end I do find them healing.

Canyon Records

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