Socially-conscious folk-rock band release second album

2011-01-04 00:00

A HIGH school teacher and an advocacy officer for a non-governmental organisation seem an unlikely pair of musicians — but that’s exactly what Soulfire’s Duncan Breen and Dave Starke do when they’re not making music.

The acoustic folk-rock duo recently released their critically acclaimed second album The Road Ahead, and Breen admitted that fans are unlikely to see gigging out on the road.

“I live in Eshowe and my partner is in Johannesburg,” says Breen. “As a result we have become a more studio-based band. This album has been two and a half to three years in the making…and the focus is more on radio and for use in shows.

“Fortunately because we are both originally from Cape Town we do perform together when we’re both there — but that only happens five or six times a year.”

What fans will see is an extension of the socially-conscious songs which appeared on the band’s first offering — 2006’s Soulfire. That album included Live My Life and Rwanda, which were rooted in the long tradition of protest music, and reflected the personal journeys Breen and Starke made as they re-examined the history of South Africa and the forgotten and buried histories of the continent.

The Road Ahead includes the deeply moving Xenophobia, which is an impassioned plea for recognition of the need to address xenophobic violence in South Africa. I also enjoyed the first single Waiting Here For You, the catchy anthem Change the World and the ballads I Loved You and Sunlight.

Breen said that their day jobs definitely influence their songwriting styles. “I work as a high school teacher [at a rural school] and Duncan is an advocacy officer for an NGO,” says Breen, “so the songs we come up with tend to be different. Duncan does the political and social commentary and I write the soppy love-song stuff, so we balance each other out.”

When asked what bands and musicians had influenced them over the years, Breen said that both he and Starke were into folk and acoustic-rock. “My favourite singer is James Taylor and I remember visiting family in London and spending a whole day listening to my uncle’s James Taylor records. But we both enjoy the music of Carole King, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Clegg and The Parlotones,” he added.

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