It’s often a challenge for musicians to incorporate revolutionary messages into their music without leaving the listener feeling disheartened or detached. But Toronto’s Iskwé, who is of Cree, Métis and European descent, fuses politically charged lyrics about loss, unrest, healing and empowerment into a thoroughly exciting sophomore album.
Iskwé’s (“woman” in Cree) style shifted from hard-hitting trip-hop to dark R&B and pop on her debut. On The Fight Within she stays within the electronic realm. Thick beats and synths drive much of the album. Opener Ice Walker summons us close with soulful chants and ambient sound effects. Healers features a traditional big drum and quotes from Chief Dan George, but the overall use of traditional-sounding instrumentation, rhythms and references are spare on TFW.
Protest is taken to gut-stirring levels on many tracks. Iskwé wrote the chilling Will I See minutes after a solidarity walk from the spot where Tina Fontaine’s body was found to the monument for missing and murdered women in Winnipeg.
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