Peter Bradley Adams New CD Pleasant but Lacks Diversity


Between Us

Mishara Music

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Peter Bradley Adams has a voice that’s David Wilcox-like sweet and soothing. The former front man of Eastmountainsouth, a duo signed by Robbie Robertson, is back with his fourth solo album. Like the previous three, is impresses with its gentleness and is nearly retro in the manner in which it highlights songwriting and voice without a lot of extraneous production and noise. The arrangements often reminded me of Daniel Lanois, especially the way in which various electric guitar guest musicians used their instruments for sonic soundscaping. The album’s quietness is both its strength and its weakness in the sense that it’s a balm for frenzied minds, but doesn’t work so well when you’re bombing down the highway in an upbeat mood. It consists of eleven songs, all of which are mid-tempo. This gives the album a distinct identity, but it also lists toward monochromatic. Adams’ voice could use a bit of controlled grit in order to add emphasis to his poetic lyrics. Ditto the need to explore a broader range of time signatures.

I enjoyed this CD, but my enthusiasm waxed and waned according to my mood. I did find that it required close concentration lest it become aural wallpaper. I also found myself listening hard for small adornments that broke the tone a bit. Some of this was achieved by the gorgeous backing vocals of Aoife O’Donovan on songs such as “My Love is My Love” and “Waltz for the Faithless.” Even more came when I just sat down and listened, without outward distractions. That said, Adams has been labeled a “promising” artist for several years now and this album will not be a game-changer. It’s pleasant and well worth purchasing, but Adams needs to expand his repertoire and musical palette before he’ll shed his old label and become a consistent headliner.

Check out this lovely YouTube clip.


Pakistan: The Bitter Fruit of Ali Jinnah

Pakistan's Effort to Locate Osama bin Laden?

And now the bullshit begins. Pakistan is busy backpedaling from the Osama bin Laden hit that took place on its soil. After the requisite saber rattling by its military, which warned the U.S. not to conduct any more raids on its soil, Pakistani government, military, and intelligence officials have announced they were shocked--shocked I tell you--to find that bin Laden was living near Islamabad. Why none of the military officers stationed just 200 meters away had the slightest idea he was there! The Pakistanis have even--get this--hired a U.S. lobby firm, Locke Lord Strategies 5, to shore up its reputation among U.S. officials.

Absurd? Of course it is. But here’s something even more unbelievable--it might just work! Cautious word is already trickling out of Washington that the United States can’t afford to allow Pakistan to become a failed state and that we need to work with Pakistani officials to repair the breach in relations and continue the war against terror. With all due respect to the Pakistani people, the majority of whom we should carefully separate from the den of vipers that misrule them, let’s enumerate some of the reasons why further involvement with Pakistan is wrongheaded.

Pakistan isn’t in “danger” of being a failed state; it is a failed state. It’s never been anything other than a failed state. Today’s Pakistan is the rotten fruit of a withered tree planted by its misguided founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) in 1947. A short history lesson: Jinnah was originally a member of the Indian National Congress (INC), the group seeking to oust British imperialists from the Indian subcontinent. He split from the INC in 1920, when Mahatma Gandhi launched his non-cooperation program against the British. (Gandhi going “native” offended the Western-trained and Western-cultured Ali Jinnah.) In the 1930s, Ali Jinnah began to insist on a two-nations solution once the British were supplanted. In his mind, Muslims and Hindus could not live in the same nation. To be sure, there had been tension among the groups, as one might expect given that Muslim Mughals conquered India in 1526 and relegated Hindus to second-class citizenship. The Mughals were outsiders as surely as were the British, who kicked out the Mughals in 1804.

Fact Check Time 1: Ali Jinnah was full of himself and a few other substances. He got his way, though Gandhi and Nehru pleaded with him not to split India. In 1947, West Pakistan was created from Muslim majority lands in Punjab, and East Pakistan from lands in Bengal. Now there’s a solid basis for a new nation, one bifurcated by a thousand miles of India between its two halves! Pakistan was a basket case from day one. Thirteen million people were displaced and angry riots led to the deaths of up to half a million souls. So was Ali Jinnah right that Muslims and Hindus cannot live in peace? Not really. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation (203 million) and Pakistan is second (174 million). Want to guess who’s third? That would be India, with 161 million--roughly 13% of its population.

Pakistan became an unstable nation prone to coup governments (1955-71, 1977-88, 1999-2008), failed coups (1949, 1980, 1995), wars with India (1947, 1965, 1971, and 1995), and a devastating civil war in 1971 in which East Pakistan went its separate way and became Bangladesh, chronically among the poorest nations on earth. Throw in a penchant for assassination during Pakistan’s sixty-four-year history and it’s hard to see it as anything other than a stillborn state. Were it not for the fact that it’s also (alas!) a nuclear power, Pakistan would be as irrelevant as a global power as, say Tajikistan.

Fact Check 2: Do not be deceived into thinking that severing relations with Pakistan will hurt the Pakistani people. Since 2002 Pakistan has gotten $12.3 billion of US aid, but only about a quarter of it has gone to economic development. Most has gone to--yep--military and intelligence spending; in fact, quite a bit of it has gone to security forces that have suppressed Pakistani dissident movements.

Fact Check 3: Pakistan has never been an ally in the war on terror. Counting bin Laden, exactly four high-profile terrorists have been arrested on Pakistani soil since 2002; in three cases the raids were initiated and led by U.S. forces. Want to bet on how many Afghani Taliban leaders are in Pakistan right now?

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan is a Cold War relic whose day has passed. In 1955, India had the unmitigated gall to champion a “Third Way” program that rejected both U.S. and the Soviet Union. In the bipolar thinking of the day, that made them “pro-Soviet,” so the U.S. snuggled up to Pakistan to keep the dominos from tumbling. That was rubbish during the Cold War and it’s positively archaic in the post-Soviet world. There is, simply, no good reason to continue pumping billions into Pakistani coffers. It is time for Pakistanis to take a hard look at the bitter fruit Ali Jinnah planted, and it needs to do so without American interference. While we’re at it, it’s time for the U.S. to lift the operating licenses of lobby firms whose profit margins are healthier than their sense of patriotism. Locke Lord Strategies 5 would be a good place to start.