On his 33rd album, Bruce Cockburn has found religion although, if truth be told, he never really lost it.
There has always been something straight edge and priestly about the veteran Canadian singer-songwriter and, while his faith is more prominent in these latest songs, it comes as no great surprise when he says: "My MO has always been to be aware of the divine".
I guess that living in the USA in the age of Trump is enough to make anyone look more seriously into the notion of spiritual salvation!
Looking & Waitingfinds Cockburn "scanning the skies for a beacon" and he gets some moral and musical support in 40 Years In The Wilderness, which features singers from the chorus at the San Francisco Lighthouse, the church he attends.
But there is plenty of soul-searching too and the opening song sets the scene. States I'm In is "about illusion and self delusion" and features plenty of apocalyptic imagery.
Cockburn’s love of poetry and sympathy for the plight of the common man is reflected in 3 Al Purdy's. This is sung/spoken from the point of a view of a homeless man who offers to recite lines from the acclaimed Canadian poet Al Purdy "for a 20 dollar bill".
Concerns for the environment are reflected in False River but the final two songs return to the album's central spiritual themes with the Jesus Train "heading for the city of God" and the obvious Gospel influences of Twelve Gates To The City.
Belief in a spirit in the sky offers comfort but no definite salvation so while Cockburn documents that he has seen glimpses of a healing light, ominous shadows still hang heavy over this set of songs.
Bruce Cockburn's website