You’d be surprised to hear the folk sound of 28-year-old U of T student/political activist Sarah Marlowe.
With song titles like “Blood on Your Hands” and “Capitalism Kills,” one would expect hardcore, angry-white-man rock, with lots of shouting and shit gettin’ smashed.
While she croons about her political worries on her first album, Marlowe is also pursuing a Master’s degree in social work.
She has always been interested in music, and has taken classical music studies here at the university.
Though she listens to alterna-rock bands like Radiohead, she insists her only real influences are jazz and a compulsion to speak out on political issues. This explains the light sound of the album, such a change from the hardcore sounds of most politically inclined musicians.
Marlowe wants to celebrate the strides that have been taken against capitalism and globalization, and to inspire listeners to continue the fight, reminiscent of the sixties and seventies, when the youth of North America was less apathetic towards culture and politics.
Sure, they were about sex and drugs more than anything else, but they were about something, and they celebrated it in their music.
Admittedly, when I mentioned this to Sarah, she was hesitant to say she feels a resurgence like that of the hippie movement.
While that is criticized today as a middle-class revolution, this new movement is more legitimate. It is made up largely of university students, and as all U of T students most assuredly know, students don’t have money.
Nonetheless, I insist that Sarah Marlowe’s musical style is that of a modern Janis Joplin, a bluesy folk sound—though I concede that no one will ever match Janis’ famous gravel voice.
And Marlowe wouldn’t try.
She has her own manner.
She must, because her music is an emotional experience.
According to Marlowe, it is a way of expressing that which can’t be expressed in words—like the horror that comes from the total neglect of human rights, or the recklessness that stems from greed.
Most importantly, Marlowe’s music expresses the exaltation she feels at seeing that these things need not be.
In her words, “It is my hope that the album reflects the growing anti-capitalist movement that says another world is possible, and together we can create it.”
On that note, Marlowe began to preach about the necessity of involvement in politics that she stresses on the album.
Handing me information about the Kananaskis Summit in Alberta, organized for this June, and the Toronto Day of Action for Peace and Global Justice on April 27, Sarah Marlowe assured me the events are worth it.
Though she has very little time, she has taken on all she can in the field of political activism, to the extent that rallies have become her only form of entertainment and relaxation.
And she’s glad about it. As she says, “To see a shift in the ideas of the world is inspiring. It makes you want to get out there, and keep fighting.”
After talking to Sarah, it was clear to me that it is not just the music on her album that is important. It is the spirit behind that music.
And if you can relate to that, I would recommend grabbing her album at Theatre Books, or at least visiting www.worldtowin.org to find out more about this new world Sarah Marlowe foresees.