Cheryl Cohen | Love & Exile

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Love & Exile

by Cheryl Cohen

Vibrant debut album with a bluesy world music feel and strong poetic lyrics.
Genre: Blues: Folk-Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Exile Song
4:35 $1.29
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2. One Beautiful Thing
3:22 $1.29
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3. You’re My Crack Cocaine
4:06 $1.29
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4. The Man With Bars in His Eyes
3:09 $1.29
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5. I Lost the Blues in Your Kiss
2:30 $1.29
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6. Hug a Tree for Me
3:30 $1.29
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7. Walk Away
3:53 $1.29
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8. Free Yourself (In Memory of Steve Biko)
3:55 $1.29
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9. Words About You
3:33 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"I wish I were an artist who saw the world in lines.
I seem to need to feel it one word at a time."

That’s the chorus of Cheryl Cohen’s “Words about You.” The fact that the song falls into the love category on her multi-genre debut album, Love & Exile, is one indication that the unexpected is the norm here.

The exile side of the CD is tied to the life story of this bluesy-voiced singer-songwriter — and is probably a variation on the life story of many people around the world who have been displaced for one reason or another.

Cheryl grew up in South Africa during the apartheid era and left at age 22. Or did she leave? “Exile Song,” the first track on this album, has lines like: “Every day when I’m standing/ in the subway .../ I hear the squealing tires/ of police vans/ ten thousand miles away.” With accomplished musical backing — from Aaron Bethune (lead guitar), Rick Salt (rhythm guitar) and Marisha Devoin (upright bass) — the track lays the groundwork for an original album that invites repeated listening.

Rick and Aaron co-produced the CD at Rick’s Mountainview Studio in Nanaimo, BC, Canada, and (along with Greg Esposito of Salt Spring Island, BC for “Exile Song”) have collaborated with Cheryl on the music of several of the tracks.

The lyrics aren’t the lamentations of a victim.

One of the folk songs is the transcendent, poetic “Free Yourself (In Memory of Steve Biko).” Cheryl traces her departure from South Africa back to something Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko said at a small, illegal gathering of Black and white students she attended in her late teens. Biko told the students that the fight for racial equality in South Africa was a Black struggle. When a white student asked what a white person who believed in the struggle could do, he said: “Free yourself.” Biko was later murdered in police custody.

Other standout tracks include “You’re My Crack Cocaine,” which showcases Rick’s driving rhythm guitar work and Cheryl’s sense of humour; and “Hug a Tree for Me,” which carries an environmental message and is also spiced with humour — and with Marisha’a impressive whistling. Both songs also feature versatility from Aaron on lead guitar and Marisha on upright bass, as well as blues drummer Bill Hicks, who is particularly laid back on “You’re My Crack Cocaine.” James McRae’s drumming is a strong part of the upbeat reggae number “One Beautiful Thing.”

Cheryl is a former career newspaper journalist turned freelance book editor who has held senior editing positions at The Globe and Mail in Toronto and worked for newspapers in Alberta and South Africa. She was born in Canada; her South African parents took her to their home country when she was 18 months old. She left 20 years later, spent 6 months in West Berlin and then moved to Canada, where she has been ever since.

She wrote poetry privately for decades, but after she moved to the West Coast it morphed into songs that she writes on guitar. At the age of 50 she signed up for her first guitar lesson and a year later, in 2005, began two years of study at jazz school in Nanaimo.

Her first song was a protest number that she performed before a crowd of 400 at a peace rally in 2004. In recent years she has done some performing with Aaron, whom she met at jazz school. That too is where she met Marisha, who also plays upright bass for the award-winning Hub City Ramblers.

The CD front cover features an original painting, "Embrace," by Angela Andersen © 1996; CD design by Kerry O'Connor.

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