Various At the Barricades Volume 1

Of greatest interest to most listeners will likely be the compilation’s lead track (after a spoken introduction) "Until It’s Dead.” Broken Social Scene contribute this previously unreleased slinky, insistent electro pop number. Immediately quelling the pace is an uncomfortably syrupy but ragged ballad by Bruce Cockburn that overreaches with his voice. Boi Brasileiro’s traditional Brazilian melodies are given a hard hip-funk mix to precede another stilted and obvious spoken interlude. Album producer Chris Brown’s work is mired in predictable country folk sap but luckily Sarah Harmer is on hand to demonstrate what talent can do with the genre. Her "Escarpment Blues” embodies the purpose of this compilation, being both poignant and pointed. A mixed bag fills the middle of the disc, with tasty jazz funk from Sex Mob, an effective collaboration between Gordon Downie and Atom Egoyan, followed by three varieties of folk and a Stars remix sporting trip-hop production. Dave Bidini dishes some bluegrass, Tony Scherr delivers an underwhelming piano ballad before one last dose of inappropriate philosophy and Bill Frisell’s album closer, the 12-minute instrumental "Across the Universe’ (yes, that Universe). Musical consistency and a smoother method of imparting the project’s message would have given At the Barricades greater impact. (Lake Ontario Waterkeeper)