Emily Barker – The Woman Who Planted Trees

I’ve been a fan of the folk-pop of Emily Barker for a number of years now. There is always a good story in the lyrics and the melodies are beautiful as is Barker’s voice. This single, a tribute to the Kenyan activist and founder of The Green Belt Movement, is a masterpiece of Emily’s music to date. The Woman Who Planted Trees (seen/heard here) is a beautiful tale of Wangari Maathai’s work in empowering women in local communities in Kenya and beyond.  To get an idea of what that movement is, check this opening statement on the website for The Green Belt Movement:

“Green Belt Movement International is one of the most prominent grassroots women’s organizations in the world. Based in Kenya, we advocate for human rights, good governance, and peaceful democratic change through the protection of the environment. Our mission is to empower communities worldwide to protect the environment and to promote good governance and cultures of peace.”

This single is from the forthcoming long-player A Dark Murmuration of Words (due out September 4, 2020).  Barker’s lyrical tone here, and on the second single from the long-player, Where Have The Sparrows Gone? is the most overt she has gotten with folk messaging. Throughout her career, she has striven to highlight causes and conditions that need focus, and she does so through her beautiful folk compositions in a way that will leave you spell-bound, but A Dark Murmuration of Words, has a decisively more urgent feel. 

Emily Barker first appeared on Vodka over 7 years ago, but I haven’t kept up with her music as well as I would have liked. It’s the sheer volume of music that I listen to, combined with hitting an artist with the right timing (say near the release date of something new) that can make it hard. Barker has done well lately, though, of hitting up her email list with promotional material ahead of a release to keep you posted on what’s up.  It’s a good move. 

If you go back and listen to Emily Barker’s earlier work with the Red Clay Halo, and then compare it with her newer releases, there is a substantial growth that has occurred. As good as that earlier work was, Barker’s solo work has given her free rein to explore different folk and pop avenues. A Dark Murmuration of Words, and specifically, The Woman Who Planted Trees, echos that growth loudly. With the climate under assault, Barker takes the work of Wangari Maathai, and highlights the good that was done by her:

“I can tell my age
By the height of trees
By the years they’ve stood
Growing over me

When I was a girl
You planted seeds
And cast your love
Forever over me”

Barker’s vocals are always pleasing, and this track takes on a hopeful tone, whereas Where Have All The Sparrows Gone? haunts with a deep foreboding of what could be on the horizon if we don’t begin to halt and reverse global warming. 

You can find more information on Emily Barker by hitting up her website, complete with all social and purchase links. To jump to the purchase links, check out the new long-player along with a huge back catalog on her site.

Pick up some of the best folk music you’ll find by picking up some Emily Barker music now! 

Note: With Covid-19 still around, probably to be with us for some time, artists like Emily Barker and many others need your purchases to keep their heads above water. If your situation allows it, consider purchasing more in these tough times. –Vodka