Levi McGrath’s second album, Children of War, is a musical diary of his and wife Megan’s 5-month African experience of working with Ugandan former child soldiers.
Children of War (2010)
Artist: Levi McGrath
Label: Small House Records (independent) www.smallhouserecords.com.au
Length: 10 tracks /37:38 minutes
Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ album of 1986 was a landmark album that reflected his discovery of and love for African music and culture. Similarly, Levi McGrath’s second album, Children of War, is a musical diary of his and wife Megan’s 5-month African experience of working with Ugandan former child soldiers. Levi correctly describes his current album as ‘African-flavoured folk/pop for fans of Pete Murray and Nelson Mandela!’ Levi incorporates African voices and music on various tracks. The album was mastered at Abbey Road and produced by Mark Tulk who is President of Small House Records and an artist in his own right.
Levi’s debut album Move (2007), by the way, is also well worth getting one’s hands on. Among other highlights, it contains the infectious and radio-friendly ‘Letting It Go’
Levi McGrath is an Australian singer-songwriter and acoustic guitarist hailing from Melbourne. He is an artist with a social conscience that naturally arises out of his Judeo-Christian worldview and faith. Both albums of his have been released on independent record label Small House Records which is based in Melbourne as well as Athens in the United States.
‘Don’t Know What to Say’ is a song about Levi’s speechlessness regarding his visit to Africa, especially to those who have never been. The radio-friendly title track confronts the listener with the reality of child soldiers. ‘By Your Side’ tells the sad but moving story of a now personal friend who was forced to become a child soldier. ‘Paradise’ offers a refreshing view of heaven by one who continues to suffer physically, mentally and emotionally from being a child soldier. ‘Christopher’ challenges the listener not to walk by and turn a blind eye to the person who suffers, along the lines of the Good Samaritan. ‘Where Do We Go’ showcases the great vocal range that Levi has been gifted with, along with a gorgeous cello accompaniment by Nikki Tulk. He hits the high notes in a way not unlike the legendary Jeff Buckley. ‘Reunion Song’ is Levi’s musical retelling of a reunion he witnessed between a child soldier and his grandmother.
I’m writing this review from the Mornington Peninsula, but it’s sadly ironic that when out and about I’ve been listening to Melbourne’s Light FM which, to my knowledge, has still not added any songs from Levi’s albums to their playlist. Thankfully, several radio station across Australia have.
Frank Rasenberger September 2011