Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sweet America


3.5
great

Review

by mac62 USER (2 Reviews)
December 17th, 2021 | 1 replies


Release Date: 1976 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Buffy's mid-70s hidden gem.

Sweet America is Buffy Sainte-Marie's twelfth album and it would be her last until her 1992 comeback, ‘Coincidence and Likely Stories’. Stylistically, this album is a mixed bag; the tracks on the first side reflect the soft pop/rock sounds typical of the time ('Sweet America', 'Where Poets Go', 'Free The Lady' and Buffy even includes a twinkly rendition of the classic lullaby 'Wynken, Blynken & Nod'. Tracks 5 and 6 return to the political lyricism of her early albums; 'America My Home' tells of how America, once young and pristine, is now choking "on smog and money greed". The real standout on Side One, however, is the straight-ahead rocker, 'Look at the Facts' (later reworked and re-titled 'Carry It On' for her excellent 2015 album, ‘Power in the Blood’). This tune confronts capitalism ('It ain't money that makes the world go 'round, that's only temporary confusion') and federal leadership ('It ain't governments that make the people strong') and orders the listener to focus on what's really important; the Earth ('Lift your heart to your own home planet, 'Mother nature, she's the daughter of God and the source of all protection').

Side Two is where the album really takes flight. It starts with a couple of country western-tinged tunes (‘I Don't Need No City Life’, 'Sweet January') that would fit perfectly on her 1968 album 'I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again', then flips into the absolutely beautiful 'Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan'. This track along with track 12, 'Starwalker' (recorded again for her 1992 and 2017 albums) are the highlights of the album. Here, Buffy incorporates multi-layered, indigenous-style singing to powerful effect. Of Starwalker Buffy has said:

"This is one of my favourite songs, not only because it’s a gas to sing it, but also because it’s about the incredible energy of our contemporary Indian people. Because of what our ancestors went through for us. I sing it for all our generations past, and all our generations yet to come".

Sweet America is arguably Buffy's best release of the 1970s. Though it never reaches the stark beauty of her earliest albums or the dark experimentalism exhibited on 1969's Illuminations, it perfectly embodies the stylistic range showcased across her varied catalogue- wrapping up multiple styles into one wonderfully-produced package. In this way, the record functions perfectly as her final outing before what would be a 16-year long hiatus from making albums. If you are a fan of Buffy Sainte-Marie, this album is a must-have. To the more casual listener, check out 'Look at the Facts', 'Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan', and 'Starwalker'.


user ratings (3)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
brandontaylor
January 27th 2022


1136 Comments


'Illuminations' was one of my favourite discoveries last year. Does this sound anything like that one? I'm keen to get into her discography more



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