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In Our Voices

by Moira Smiley

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1.
It’s so sad. We don’t understand each other yet. How can this be when we’ve been living together so long?  So close to each other’s beauty? It’s so sad. It makes me feel so bad. I can’t stand by anymore. Gonna sing about it Gonna sing it when I feel like cryin’.  When I’m uncomfortable & don’t know why yet. When I am guilty of the laissez-faire  – my ignorance of you laid bare I’ll talk to you before I raise my hand,  so you can call on me to make a stand. Am I responsible? Are you responsible? What are we responsible for? I’m gonna look up from my own concerns - reach across the chasm of what I’ve never learned. So wide, so full of burning–your eyes are turning to me now, saying ‘It’s time-it’s way past time-to step outside the echo echo echo echo… chamber.’ Stop pretending it’s alright, stop pretending this is not our fight. Am I responsible? Are you responsible? What are we responsible for? Gonna sing about it.
2.
Days Of War 04:41
Sit with me birdie, in the tall tree The news is bad and there’s no relief How do you fly to the enemy, and sing your song so tenderly? Ooh, these days of war When I fly to the enemy the fear is high ‘cause you don’t agree and tempers flare, yeah the cry is war no one listens anymore Ooh, in these days, in these days Ooh, these days of war Little bird, do you fly in fear up and away from the hatred here? Do you see our meeting ground between our camps where you touch down? Oh yes, sometimes I fly in fear and I sing so softly so you cannot hear, but I sometimes see your meeting ground beneath the smoke and the battle sounds Ooh, these days of war These days of war Oh little bird why do you fly away and leave me alone in this silent day? And how do you sing in these days of war where no one listens anymore? Well I fly because I must carry on To love To feed To make my home and I sing to know that love is near because anger holds the hand of fear Yeah, I sing to know that love is near Because anger holds the hand of fear I sing, to know that love is near Oh, courage take the hand of fear In these days of war
3.
Refugee 03:22
Refugee In your world I’m a refugee. In your world danger all around me, all around me, all around me. In your world I’m not free, I must flee, I must flee Bring me shelter, I will not harm you. Bring me shelter, please. Bring me shelter, I will not harm you I would shelter you I am only what you are. Imagine your unbreakable world was broken, No more rules to protect you Who was I?  In my world I was standing strong In my world my heart did belong. And now it’s gone – there is only longing, only longing, only longing Bring me shelter, I will not harm you.  Bring me shelter, please. Bring me shelter, I will not harm you I would shelter you I am only what you are. Imagine your unbreakable world was broken, No more rules to protect you Refugee
4.
I’m walking slowly, taking in a cloudy day. A river of people passes me and goes away.  I'm feeling weary,  I'm feeling like I'm wasting time.  The trouble in my life just ain't worth a dime.    Sisters and brothers, forgive me for the things I say.  I'm losing the meaning, I'm losing sense of night and day.  The sun that I'm seeing is the same around the earth.  So why is our freedom ruled by our birth?    And how can I cry about freedom  when I've lived a whole life of liberty? And how can I sing about suffering and pain?  I sing for all the souls who do not complain.   Tomorrow and justice seem so high and far away, while people are hungry, mistreated each and every day.  Whatever, oh can I do? I'm standing here on solid ground.  I sing for the silent people, Lord, hear our sound!    I’m wondering why blues & blacks & grays are covering my world?  What is the mystery of the dove that she stays so long away?  Why are my sisters singing songs of their pain so beautifully?  Why are my brothers crying tears of silence so helplessly?   And how can I cry about freedom  when I've lived a whole life of liberty? And how can I sing about suffering and pain? I sing for all the souls who do not complain.  Who do not complain.
5.
Wiseman 04:21
God gave the wisemen a long gray beard, and told him to walk on the land. Wiseman, he comes with a golden tongue, and a question in each hand. Why must I wear a long gray beard? And why must I walk on the land? When all my life I've been penniless and poor, troubles I could barely stand. Was it my youth that kept away the peace that I have today? Or was it my love for wife and child who now in the Earth do lay? My love, my love kept me through storms, and nothing in the world did I fear. Though she is gone, her spirit lingers on, and is with me as I travel here/far and near. I’ll walk my way, with my long gray beard, up to the high gates above. And tell every  friend and stranger I meet that I found heaven in love.
6.
So Glad 03:28
I’m so glad, I’m so glad You let me take you away from your troubles for a little while. And I know we’re walking on the wire right now But we’ve gotta build the fire in the belly We’ve gotta feed the fire in our bellies We’ve gotta feed the fire in the belly sometime(s) Cuz your fire might change my mind Your fire might make it better Your fire might soften my heart Your fire might make it better
7.
Silverlake 02:51
Come, o traveler unknown, whom still I hold but cannot, cannot see. My friends have gone, I am alone.  And in darkness, darkness you will not let me be. With me all night you stay and stay, I wrestle til the break of day. In vain I struggle to get free.  I cannot unloose your hold. What is the face you hide from me?  Or how must I yield to let your will unfold? Wrestling, I will not let you go until I know you, friend or foe.
8.
The Call 03:51
One foot after the other. Each step part of the Mother Earth. Our feet, one and the same, sisters by a different name. Two eyes help me to notice it's true our worldview's out of focus. We divide ourselves, yet don't understand what it means to be man. You and I will find the call. In its arms, embracing all, you and I will find the call. Don't we see humanity is drifting and fading? Each passing day more out of reach. What are we waiting for? Blind to all, we are at our core. The love of one can end this war. You and I will find the call. In its arms, embracing all, you and I will find the call.
9.
I met my father all dressed in yellow (Take heed take warning, daughter) And the light was soft and strange around him (There are many things to know). Hello father, how can you be here? (Take heed take warning, daughter) You have been gone for these 3 years (There are many things to know.) And such sweetness in your smile (Take heed take warning, daughter) Do you bring good news from the dead? (There are many things to know) Father sat across from me, then (Take heed take warning, daughter) And quietly began to read (There are many things to know) Oh father, oh father, I could not trust you I had no warning, father You anger closed the door of my young heart (There are many things to know) But as I dream you in sunny yellow (Take heed take warning, daughter) I know my heart can open wider (There are many things to know) I look across at my young father, unsure of what to do or say. My fear tells me I must ignore him. My loves & labors take me away. But as I close my cloak of labor, I catch his eye once more - in case. And there is laughter coming through me. And there is laughter on his face. Oh he looked up, yes, he laughed with me I need no warning, father And in that laughter, sweet forgiveness That is what I came to know
10.
Oh Susannah 04:47
I come from Alabama with this old banjo on my knee. I'm headed towards Louisiana, for my true love to see. It rained all night the day we left The weather it was bone dry The sun so hot I nearly froze myself Susanna don't you cry Oh, Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me Well, I come from Alabama with this old banjo on my knee I had a dream the other night, when everything was still I dreamt I saw my sweet Susanna coming down the hill A buckwheat cake was in her mouth and a tear was in her eye I’m coming home from the South. Susanna don't you cry Oh,Susanna, don't you cry for me I come from Alabama with this old banjo On my knee
11.
I went to the river, but the river was dry. The dust rose up to a darkened sky. Tell me, where is hope? Where do the waters run clear? I do not know my way from here. Come, and stand in that river. Current, gentle and slow. Send your troubles down water. Down on that water flow. When you stand in that river, Angels sing in your head. Secrets beyond every worry dreams beyond every dread. Tell me, sister, brother; Where does that river flow? It flows down to the great water, Where soon my people will go. Oh, Time passes. Passes on down the stream. Some days are so much sweeter. Some days pass like a dark dream...so Come, and stand in that river. Current, gentle and slow. Send your troubles down water. Down on that water flow.
12.
Bellow 05:11
Sometime, anytime you wanna bellow at the sky, call on me, call on me. We’ll unzip the horizon with our voices. You ask me why I sing softer now, and did the world beat me down? Cuz back then I sang hard, I sang proud, but where are the edges now? Ukrainian summer before the revolution. I sat at the knees of the grandmother. Her daughter told me we could lift the veil between the worlds by singing. We were sat outside in the dawn light of the midsummer feast and the short night. Singing to the dead so they’d bless the crop, bless the young, bless the year We’ll unzip the horizon with our voices. Sometime, anytime you wanna bellow at the sky, call on me, call on me. We’ll unzip the horizon with our voices. This is the way we call the unknown, and lift the veil to the other side. We’re singing to break the walls down the walls down. Throwing the gate open wide! Every breath I take has been taken before. Every note’s been sung. Who can I sing them all again for? Baba, Baba Baba…. Please don’t give up - please don’t lose that sound. So many people fought to gain that ground. Please don’t give up – please don’t hide your voice.  So many people did not have that choice. She told me the power of song was in the unison. She gathered her friends all around her, and they pierced the sky with a call - one melody from many voices. And from then til now, I remember, when the year is fat, and full of shadows, I’m singing to the dead so they’ll bless the crop, bless the young, bless the year. Every breath I take has been taken before. Every note’s been sung. Who can I sing them all again for? Baba, Baba Baba…. Please don’t give up - please don’t lose that sound. So many people fought to gain that ground. Please don’t give up – please don’t hide your voice.  So many people did not have that choice. Unzip the horizon with our voices.

about

Touring heavily with Tune-Yards, Solas and Jayme Stone’s Lomax / Folklife projects bore Unzip The Horizon - Moira Smiley’s 2018 solo album of lonesome, nomadic songs. An instinctual collaborator, she was ready to return to harmony singing and the joy of powerful voices in 2020 with VOCO. In Our Voices is the result of that return.

credits

released February 19, 2021

Moira Smiley - soprano vocals / banjo
Karla Mundy - soprano vocals
Dawn Pemberton - alto vocals
Jake Asaro - tenor vocals
Gregory Fletcher - bass vocals

Produced by Moira Smiley & David Weber.

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Moira Smiley Bristol, Vermont

Moira Smiley is a Singer / Composer. Touring & writing with the finest in various worlds of music, she brings clarity and visceral emotion to any song she sings. She accompanies herself on banjo, accordion, piano, and hand & body percussion. She's toured with Tune-Yards and Solas among many others. Moira recently sang with Tune-Yards on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. ... more

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